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Saturday, December 24, 2016

ADVENT DEC. 24

PSALM 144:5

"Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down..."



It may not of happened as David imagined, but oh my, did God ever bow the heavens to come down
when He sent His only begotten Son!  God did come down finding Himself not just in the appearance of man, but in the appearance of an infant, O Holy Child!

  


"O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;  It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope--the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!  O night divine!  O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!





Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger, In all our trials born to be our Friend.
He knows our need--to our weakness is no stranger.  Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!


Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy In grateful chorus raise we; Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord!  O praise His name forever!  His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim.


This was written by John S. Dwight, who lived 1813-1893.  He wrote it from the original in 1855.  This was done prior to the Civil War when it was radical to sing of breaking the chains of slavery as in the third verse, "Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease."  This song writer had taken it from the original written by a French poet who was asked  by a priest in Roquemure for  it to be written on the occasion of a church organ renovated in 1843.   Thus, "Cantique de Noel" was written by Adolphe Adam, then"Minuet Chretiens" by Placide Cappeau.   In other words, several had their hand in the ink of this most beautiful of Christmas carols. 


It was sung by an opera singer in 1847, Emily Lauren in France.  In more modern times it was sung by Enrico Caruso in 1916, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Bing Cosby, Perry Como, the Lettermen, Andy Williams, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and many, many others.
Just as the original writer wasn't known as a religious man, so as many of the singers who have chosen this beautiful song.  But God can be praised by whatever vessel He chooses, whether an organ in France in 1843 , or recording studios and the radio and iTunes across the world.  God's just like that. 

Here is a more literal translation of the original song, "Minoit Chretiens."

"Midnight Christians, is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
and to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives a Saviour.


People, kneel down, await your deliverance.
Christians, Christians, here is the Redeemer
Christians, Christians, here is the Redeemer.


May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger,
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,


It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer
Bow your heads before the Redeemer.



The Redeemer has broken every bond,
The Earth is free, and Heaven's open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.


People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer.


Not bad lyrics for someone who was not known to be religious.


When God bowed His heaven to come down, as this song describes, one of my favorite lines is
"Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth."
Imagine those despised shepherd finding their worth up on the hillside, the first to hear the good news!  Has your soul found its worth?
 

I think it is interesting that Luke the Physician, wrote the most descriptive telling of the birth of Christ.  I can see him enthralled in the miracle of the virgin birth, beyond medical understanding, and wanting to talk to Mary who had treasured all these things in her heart.  Someone listened to the mother of Christ, wrote about it, and it became canonized into Scripture.  The birth of Christ has been celebrated ever since.


 The cradle may be empty now,
but we can heap praise after praise
on this holy night
upon the hay
where he lay
as the centuries have done since the angel song.












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