O Come All Ye Faithful

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast 

Luke 2:8-18

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

John 1:1-4, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Manger Scene | Cologne, Germany | December 2022

A quick Google search revealed the following about this hymn, O Come All Ye Faithful:

The invitation to “come, all ye faithful, . . . to Bethlehem” places the singer both among the shepherds who rushed to see the Christ child, and in the long procession of the “faithful” that have journeyed to Bethlehem in their hearts for over 2,000 years.

Of particular note is the second stanza that draws heavily upon the Nicene Creed:

True God, of true God,
Light from Light Eternal,
lo, he shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father,
begotten, not created.

This paraphrases the text of the Creed very closely:

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
Very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
Being of one substance with the Father;
through whom all things were made.”

Thus, singing stanza two establishes a link to the church that reaches back to 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicea, where the Creed originates. [Discipleship Ministries]

This is a call to worship for the faithful people of God. It highlights the profound mystery of Jesus as God in the flesh of a baby boy born in Bethlehem. It calls for the confession made only by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3) There is so much great Christology here.

Perhaps that’s why I so love Christmas carols and Christian Christmas songs: They expound the central confession of our faith that Jesus Christ is true God and true man. Why else would we sing songs in praise of a baby? Why else would we come and adore him? Why else would we call him Lord? Jesus is Lord because he is our redeemer. That’s why he came to earth: so that he could redeem us.

All this is set aside in so much of the popular and secular so-called Christmas music today. The idea of a white Christmas is not a bad one. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is a treat that I’ve actually experienced (though it wasn’t all that great IMHO). Dashing through the snow is a fun thought. And we’re the house to which people would go over the river and through the woods…if people were to come to grandmother’s house today. It’s all nice, but so far from the profound mysterious blessing that is Christmas. Sadly, it seems that the world will go to any extreme possible to avoid bringing Jesus into its Christmas celebration.

So the call goes out, O come all ye faithful! Come and behold him, the King of angels. True God from True God is he, light from eternal light, born of a virgin, the only-begotten Son of God. Come and join the angel chorus glorifying God. Indeed, to Jesus may all glory be given.

That is what I want to celebrate and sing. I hope you do too!

This, from Westminster Abby, is a rich high church celebration of this invitation to worship Christ the Lord.

1 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!

2 God from true God, and
Light from Light eternal,
born of a virgin, to earth he comes!
Only-begotten Son of God the Father: [Refrain]

3 Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest: [Refrain]

4 Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: [Refrain]

Source: Christian Worship (2021): Hymnal #354

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