For a few days just before and after this supreme holiday, I’m offering a mini-series to feature some relatively unlikely Xmas¹ songs that ought to be more present in our meditations — whether in December or April or August. There will be no “Silent Night,” no “First Noel” or “Hark,” and definitely no “Rudolph” here. Those already get enough airtime.
I have at last rejected two songs I was going to write about today, feeling that it would be hypocritical to tout them. (It was a bit disappointing, but not surprising, to find within these two songs a mix of truth, half-truth, legend, and untruth. In case you care, these songs were “Lo! How a Rose Ee’r Blooming” and “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.”) On to the next one.
I suppose we are supposed to think that Jesus was born on Christmas Day, and yet the Christmas Eve festivities indulged in by so many churches would appear, on the surface, to indicate Yeshua was born on the Eve. Something about the feeling of the Eve day is anticipatory, so I’ll run with that and quote some poignant lines from what might be called an anticipatory “Advent” song.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Charles Wesley, 1778 (© by no one!)
I’m so glad to have learned this song after the publication of Great Songs of the Church, No. 2, with Supplement in the 1970s. With the tune “Hyfrydol” as its setting, there can be flowing musical motion and a sense of majesty as the words pass by.
Yes, He was born for His people’s salvation.
Yes, we may find our rest in Him. He invited the Pharisee-influenced people of His time to do that (end of Matt. 11) , and He invites us similarly today.
Yes, He was Israel’s Consolation — Simeon was waiting for this, and He was immensely blessed to have seen this One who was Israel’s Salvation, Israel’s Glory … and every nation’s Light from then on!
Jesus is the Hope and Desire of every faith-filled yearning.
¹ All ya’all Christians who think “Xmas” spelling is taking Christ out of Christmas, think again. I’m a Christian who realizes that’s not necessarily the case– although I have no particular concerns with making Christmas a Christian thing.