Today's post was written by Concordia Deaconess Intern Elsa Mauritz. Concordia's Chaplaincy Department actively contributes to our residents' well being, especially around this time of year.
As you may have noticed, Christmas decorations have been appearing everywhere and Christmas music can be heard all around this time of year. Expectations of what Christmas will bring can be very high at times and many people can get carried away by the shopping, wrapping and cooking which is supposed to make Christmas what it is. Those things do help us celebrate a precious event, but are not in themselves what we are celebrating.
Even though we may all have different Christmas traditions within our families, we all have one thing in common that will never change. We all have the opportunity to remember and worship the Baby born to save us all from damnation. What happened in Bethlehem that glorious day happened for every person who ever lived, who lives now, and who ever will live.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as a human baby at Christmas-time because of the wondrous event that it was. God took the entire world by surprise at the sending of His only Son as a helpless baby in a humble manger. John Francis Wade captures the feelings and attitudes the Christmas season brings in his poem and hymn Adeste Fideles or "O Come All Ye Faithful." Originally written in Latin, Frederick Oakeley created the translation that we are most familiar with today.
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem,
Come and behold him born the King of angels
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord
Highest most holy, Light of Light eternal
Born of a Virgin, a mortal He comes
Son of the Father now in flesh appearing
Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above
Glory to God All glory in the highest
Yea Lord we greet Thee, born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory given
Word of the Father now in flesh appearing
This hymn is special to me because of the memories I have of singing it in college. We have a tradition at Concordia University-Chicago (CUC), the University I attend, of conducting a Lessons and Carols service at the beginning of December. All of the choirs, the orchestra and the hand bell choir participate in the celebration of Christ's birth by playing and singing His praise and listening to the story of His birth, written in the Word.
As a member of one of the choirs, Lessons and Carols was one of the things that I enjoyed most about being at student at CUC. Even though it happened in the midst of the stress of the end of the semester, it was such a beautiful and moving service that no stress could spoil it.
One of the hymns that is always sung at Lessons and Carols is "O Come, All Ye Faithful." This hymn was sung near the end of the service as the members of the choir would move to surround the congregation for the closing song. The congregation was invited to sing with the choir for this hymn so nearly every person in the chapel was singing a magnificent sound that truly "drowns all music but it's own" as Crown Him With Many Crowns, another treasured hymn describes.
The words of this hymn summarize the message that I would like to bring to you today. I hope that you and your friends and family will come to Bethlehem to see your Savior born the King of angels and adore Him who is Christ the Lord this Christmas. Take a moment to go back and read the words of this hymn and picture what the event described must have looked like and what it means for us and join the angels in singing His glory.