The Glad Tidings of Christmas Song
The Glad Tidings of Christmas Song
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” – but not mainly because of all the festive things set forth in the song by that name. For us there is much more, a resplendent majesty “heard on high” in “joyous strains” that sweep “o’er the plains” and reach “the mountains in reply.” The “fields and floods, rocks, [and] hills” cannot help themselves, and so they “repeat the sounding joy”.
Indeed, something of unparalleled cosmic significance has taken place, which is why the angels from another realm “wing [their] fligh o’er all the earth” and issue a proclamation for all the world. “Hark! the herald angels sing”!
Down below, the local shepherds are summoned to “come… and see” and “come, adore on bended knee.” At the same time, the royal sages of the East are compelled to “leave [their] contemplations” because “brighter visions beam afar” – and so they follow “yonder star”, “bearing gifts” to One whose royalty and wisdom surpass their own.
On this “holy night! the stars are brightly shining”, and yet it is into a world of profound darkness that they shine, for “long lay the world in sin and error pining” – a “weary world” all too familiar with “chains” and “oppression”. “Captive Israel… mourns in lonely exile”, just like all the other nations steeped in “envy, strife and quarrels”. Who will “disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight”?
And so over the “dark streets” of Bethlehem, the angels “proclaim Messiah’s birth”. A birth! A newborn baby! A promised child! “What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” “Why lies He in such mean estate?” Why “no crib for a bed”? ‘Tis a great mystery, but “see within a manger laid Jesus, Lord of heav’n and earth!” “Holy Infant so tender and mild”. “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see”! “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!” “God with man is now residing”! He alone is able to bear the weight of the whole world: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in [him] tonight”. “Glory to the newborn King”!
Why was “the everlasting Lord… pleased as man with men to dwell”? To deliver: “The King of kings salvation brings”! “In all our trials born to be our Friend; He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Behold your King”! “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” True indeed, but only through His death: myrrh’s “bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom–sorr’wing, sighing, bleeding, dying”. And in due course “nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you”. Then on the other side of death: “Glorious now behold Him arise: King and God and Sacrifice”! So even now “in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.” “God and sinners reconciled!” That, and much more, for “in His name all oppression shall cease” and the curse shall be undone: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found”!
Since these things are so – “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room”! “Let loving hearts enthrone Him”! No matter who you are, high or low, rich or poor, you are summoned: “Come, peasant, king, to own Him”! Yes, come! “Come to Bethlehem and see”! “O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant… Come and behold Him, born the King of angels!” “O come, let us adore Him”! “Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King”. And stretch forth your soul, so that you might fill the earth with exultant song: “Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name; Christ is the Lord, Oh, praise His name forever! His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!” And let us call the nations to be true to their rightful King: “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.”
And after you have done all that, never outgrow the continual need to ask this mighty Savior to help you: “Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.” So keep looking up, and keep looking ahead: “For lo, the days are hast’ning on, by prophets seen of old, when the ever circling years shall come the time foretold, when the new heav’n and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their King, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.”
“Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n”!
HYMNS QUOTED: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”; “Joy to the World”; “It Came upon the Midnight Clear”; “Angels, from the Realms of Glory”; “Angels We Have Heard on High”; “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”; “What Child Is This?”; “O Little Town of Bethlehem”; “O Come, All Ye Faithful”; “Silent Night! Holy Night!”; “O Holy Night!”; “Away in a Manger”; “We Three Kings”
NOTE: Header Image/Featured Image Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash