Wednesday 2nd December
Today’s song was written by the 4th Century bishop Ambrose of Milan. He was elected bishop before being baptised or ordained! He became famous for his preaching and was influential in converting St Augustine.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
You can hear the hymn, from Kings College Cambridge, here
Come Thou Redeemer of The Earth
Ambrose of Milan (340-397)
Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth:
let every age adoring fall;
such birth befits the God of all.
2 Begotten of no human will,
but of the Spirit, thou art still
the Word of God, in flesh arrayed,
the Saviour, now to us displayed.
3 From God the Father he proceeds,
to God the Father back he speeds,
runs out his course to death and hell,
returns on God’s high throne to dwell.
4 O equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now,
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.
5 Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness glow with new-born light,
no more shall night extinguish day,
where love’s bright beams their power display.
6 O Jesu, virgin-born, to thee
eternal praise and glory be,
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Spirit, evermore. Amen.
What a difference between two consecutive chapters. In chapter eight Isaiah warns of God’s punishment in that He would send the dreaded Assyrian army that God would send to destroy Jerusalem as a punishment for disobedience to God’s will. In chapter nine, we see a very different picture. In this chapter God offers a message of hope. There would be a new King in Jerusalem, a King who would bring joy, a move from sadness to joy, from oppression to freedom, from war to peace. Was this in it’s original form referring to the birth or coronation of king Hezekiah, son of the ineffective king Ahab?
No doubt over the next few weeks churches and Christian fellowships will celebrate the season of Advent with a service of nine lessons and carols. In such a service one of the earlier scripture readings would be today’s reading. We are again reminded of verse six of this passage in one of the more famous choruses in Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’. In this passage we see God meeting human need by introducing a human agent to meet human need whether it was Hezekiah who stabilized the political state of Israel in the Old Testament context and Jesus who brought love and hope in both the New Testament times and subsequent generations of all backgrounds.
Saviour of the world, open our hearts and minds to the joys and expectations of Advent. Help and guide us, despite all the pressures of the present age to think only of the material element of this season to turn our thoughts and energy to proclaiming what Advent and Christmas is really about. We ask this in our Saviour’s name. Amen