Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_2558God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

A melody of the poor, the afflicted, the bottom end of society. This is the story behind the song. The peasants of England created and sang the tune from their hearts, then danced it in their streets. It is a song written first in the soul, from a state of being joyful—filled with joy.

Imagine. Peasants in Medieval England gathering amid their filthy cesspool streets filling their humble setting with lyrics of comfort and joy?!

I remember teaching my children of that time in history—the days of lords, ladies, peasants, and the Almighty Church. How dreary, I thought, to be a peasant. No—not just dreary…heartbreaking. To be indentured your entire life; subject to those who kept your family in hunger and humiliating ignorance.

Yet, out of their lack, they found joy; expressed in the pleasant aroma of a lively melody…

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day…

 

Rest. The old English meaning of rest (as used in the song) is “to keep.” The word merry has several broad meanings, one being: “bountiful, prosperous.”

The peasants, in their lowliness, saw their potential for bountiful prosperous living.

How?

Because God kept them.

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

Somehow, though they lived in a time when the words of Scripture were available to only a privileged few, the poor commoners of England latched on to the heart of God’s story—they understood their great need. They took the message personally and out of their great poverty came songs of joyful praise.

From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came.
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same.
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name…

 

The peasants tell the shepherds’ story. Is it any wonder? The shepherds lived on the fringe as well. Herding dumb stubborn animals out on the hills, always exposed to the worst life had to offer: the elements, attack animals, and sneaking thieves.

And to whom did God bring the message of salvation, first?

The poor, the afflicted, the bottom end of society shepherds. The ones who, like the peasants of England, were the most ignorant of the Scriptures; the least trained in the Torah, wisdom writings, and prophets. And yet…

“Fear not,” then said the angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Savior,
Of virtue, power, and might;
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite;”
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

They heard the message, latched onto the heart of God’s story. They, like the peasants, took the message seriously…

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding,
In tempest, storm, and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straight-way
This blessed babe to find
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

I do not live as the peasants or the shepherds. I have all that need to live comfortably and an embarrassing amount more. The Scriptures are not outside my grasp. I have every translation at my fingertips and endless supplemental material, filling my many bookcases. Learning is not kept from my children or me.

We want for nothing.

And God, in His rich mercy, chooses to come to me anyway. He loves me and offers me the heart of His story—despite my lack of lowliness. He brings me into His light, His message, and then His Church. He shows me that I am lowly—lowly of heart; needing His holy tide of Christmas more than the shepherds, even; more than the peasants. I need His joy because I want for nothing, and so can easily want for everything—everything not of Him, that is.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface…

 

I’ve had several people ask me why I made such a crazy commitment to blogging this month. Why, in the busiest month of the year, would I choose to double my blogging output, when I find it near impossible to keep 1-2 posts a week the other eleven?

This is why: I know I am lowly of heart. I know I am in that category of folks who (like the camel) finds it easier to enter the eye of a needle than enter the gates of heaven. I know I could easily live like my reward is here and now, not here and forever. I know I could embrace that which defaces the holy tide of Christmas, missing the holy embrace of true love and brotherhood.

IMG_2552Dear Heavenly Father, please keep me this Christmas in the position of the peasants and the shepherds. For this is where I will find Your comfort. And Your Joy.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Advertisements