A Christmas Hymn, and a Reading from the Book of Matthew
Merry Christmas Eve, I hope this letter finds you well. I’m praying that each of you has a happy and safe Christmas. I mentioned last week that my favorite Christmas hymn is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I love it because the lyrics are so powerful. I have reproduced the lyrics and one of my favorite versions below.
A Christmas Hymn
HARK! the Herald Angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on Earth, and Mercy mild,
God and Sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye Nations rise,
Join the Triumphs of the Skies;
Nature rise and worship him,
Who is born at Bethlehem.
Christ by highest Heaven adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in Time behold-him come,
Offspring of the Virgin's Womb.
Veil'd in Flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleas'd as Man with Men t'appear,
Jesus our Emmanuel here.
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and Life around he brings,
Risen with Healing in his Wings.
Mild he lays his Glory by,
Born that Men no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of Earth,
Born to give them second Birth.
Come, Desire of Nations, come,
Fix in us thy heavenly Home;
Rise the Woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent's Head.
Now display thy saving Power,
Ruined Nature now restore,
Now in Mystic Union join
Thine to Ours, and Ours to Thine.
Adam's Likeness now efface,
Stamp thy Image in its Place;
Second Adam from above,
Work it in us by thy Love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the Inner Man:
O! to All Thyself impart,
Form'd in each Believing Heart.
The song was written by Charles Wesley (brother of John, the founder of Methodism). Charles was perhaps the greatest hymn writer to ever live. He wrote more than 6,500(!) hymns, many of which are still in use today, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” and “Come, thou Long Expected Jesus.” The lyrics we know today were modified by American evangelist George Whitefield, a friend of Wesley.
A reading from the book of Matthew:
The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.
—Matthew 1:18-25 (CSB)
Because this letter goes out on Christmas Eve, I don’t expect many of you to have much time to spend on a variety of links this week, so I will end the letter here. Thank you all for your support. We will have a more normal letter at 2:30 pm Eastern Time on New Years’ Eve.
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!