Saturday, December 10, 2016

O Come All Ye Faithful

Twelve Songs of Christmas #6
O Come All Ye Faithful

Today, we begin a 3-part series about Christmas songs beginning with "O."

O Come All Ye Faithful is a simple song calling people to look upon the Christ child.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant

Why joyful? Why triumphant?  The Messiah, the coming King, has arrived.  God has come in human flesh to save the world. As the final verse says, "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing" (John 1:14).

O come ye, o come ye, to Bethlehem.  Come and behold him, born the king of angels.

He is king over even the angels.  This king is above all beings great and small; earthly and heavenly.

The majority of this song is simply a call for all beings, from angels to humans of all stature and class.  It is unclear where the song originated.  Manuscripts from Catholic scribe John Francis Wade contain the tune and verses 1, 2, 6, and 7 in Latin (The New Oxford Book of Carols, 242). These are the verses that are commonly sung in churches today.

I find another verse, verse 5, to be especially meaningful.

Child, for us sinners, poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee with love and awe;
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?

We willingly embrace the Christ child in love and awe.  Why?  We embrace him and love him because he so loved us. 
Even those who are poor. 
Even those who are in the manger. 
Even those who are sinners.

God's love was shown through Jesus to the people to whom society or the religious hierarchy was not always kind.  The sermon on the mount begins with a show of love to the outsider.

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In Jesus, God's love reached out to all people.  Sinners and saints, rich and poor.  This Christmas season, let us come and adore him; born the king of angels; now in flesh appearing; who loves us so dearly.

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