Dear Friends in Christ,
I love the opportunities for singing that we have during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The tunes are clear and familiar, and the texts provoke deep spiritual insights. These, to me, are the characteristics which make any hymn relevant and significant.
The hymn on the front cover, Once in Royal David’s City (ELW #269), is one such example. Not only is it a beautiful piece of poetry written by Cecil Frances Alexander, the tune by Henry J. Gauntlett, gives us music that is easily sung and matches the words perfectly.
This is not one of those Christmas carols which makes you want to sing as loud as possible. But it is a carol which makes you pray, and think, and ponder anew what the almighty has done through the birth of Jesus, the Christ. Each of the four verses moves us through the story of the incarnation, beginning with the location and the holy family. But unlike other carols, this hymn takes us beyond Bethlehem and into the reason the messiah came to earth. Because the child will not stay in the stable, nor will he keep sleeping in the manger. Instead he will be in heaven at God’s right hand on high, where we will all, “gather round, bright like stars, with glory crowned.”
If anyone asks you about the significance of Christmas, guide them to this hymn.
Thank you for your faithful worship and witness in the name of Jesus Christ during this year, now coming to an end. God bless you with more meaningful ways that you may offer service and witness in the new year.
CLIFTON D. ESHBACH