The Second Song of Advent: Morning has Broken!

Click here for an audio version of this blog post. 

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.” – Luke 1:67-70, 78-79

Galveston Sunrise | Galveston, Texas | August 2020

I was stunned to learn that Cat Steven’s song, Morning has Broken, was actually not his song. It is a Christian hymn written by English author Eleanor Farjeon. And just now I learned that the tune is also known as Child in a Manger. It was Inspired by the village of Alfriston in East Sussex, and is an ode to creation, and acknowledgment of “God’s recreation of the first day.” 

Maybe you’ve seen a particularly beautiful sunrise. Perhaps you are simply drawn to enjoy the awe of the colors of the dawn. They are beautiful. Here, however, we have a different focus of morning’s break. This focus is on Jesus as the bright morning star. It’s about his rising in the hearts of people. It’s about his appearance 2000 years ago. And just as sunrise may portend great opportunity, so Jesus’ birth portends the very greatest opportunity. Through Jesus we may know God truly. We may find peace. We may be saved. 

They often say it is darkest just before dawn. In other words, when the times are dire and dangerous, and we are desperate and discouraged, we will find the greatest joy in Jesus’ presence. He is the light of the world. He is the light that shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot comprehend or overcome it. Light one candle and the darkest room is filled with light. When the Son of God comes into the world, the whole world is filled with light. This is indeed a re-creation of the first day, when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1:3-4).

Here we learn of God’s tender mercy which moves him to send light from heaven. He will come. And John (the gospel writer) tells us that in the Word-made-flesh was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4-5). 

Sometimes we try to ignore the shadow of death that darkens our world. Then a friend dies. Or a father. Or a sister. And it hits us hard. Sometimes we think we’re in the light, only to discover that we’ve only imagined the light, and it’s all glitz: fools gold. 

Jesus has come to guide us to the path of peace. It is not found apart from his presence. Peace does not come in paths that turn from his commands. We will not find it seeking the fools gold of the world’s glamor. 

We might use the saying, “It suddenly dawned on me…” Like an idea popped into our minds. Jesus’ appearing is like that – only more dramatic and far reaching. His is the light that shines on in the darkest night, and illuminates the pathway of true peace.

This version takes the first thought of Zechariah’s hymn of praise to the One who has come in the name of the Lord. The cello is elegant. The children’s choir is heavenly. The Hosanna! is dramatic. Translation of the Latin lyrics are below. 

Benedictus, by Karl Jenkins 

Soprano: Benedictus (Blessed is he)
Tenor: Benedictus (Blessed is he)
Alto: Qui venit in nomine Domini (Who comes in the name of the Lord)
Bass: Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord)

Tutti: Hosanna in excelsis Hosanna in excelsis Hosanna in excelsis Hosanna in excelsis (Hosanna [save now] in the highest).

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

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