Monday 4th January – O Come All Ye Faithful
The earliest version of this hymn, in Latin, is in a book by John Francis Wade but there is note in it attributing it to an earlier author. The English version sung is by the Catholic priest Fr Frederick Oakelely and dates to 1841. The hymn puts in verse form traditional theology about Jesus.
St John 1: 1 – 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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Latin 18th Century, possibly by John Francis Wade (1711-1786)
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 of God, Light of Light;
lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb;
very God, begotten not created;
3 Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;
glory to God, all glory in the highest;
4 Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning:
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, late in flesh appearing;
John’s description of Jesus as ‘the Word’, was understood by both Greeks and Jews of his time. For the Greeks, it referred to the powers that sustain the universe, whilst for the Jews it was a reminder that back in Genesis, when God spoke, the world was created. The Word was an expression of God’s wisdom and creative power and the audience of the day was perplexed by the audacious claim that ‘the Word’ became a person and was both 100% human and 100% divine.
The hymn writer picks up the theme in this favourite carol, and whilst I’m slightly uncomfortable about the triumphalism of the first line, I love to sing it as the descant soars and we celebrate Jesus with us in the world (when we’re allowed to sing), though I wonder, do we think about the lyrics?
O come, let us adore him!
How do we ‘adore him’ now, in the 21st century, at a time of pandemic with present and future economic crisis? What can we learn from God becoming human?
The clue is at the end of the Bible passage and the final line of the carol: “… the Word…lived among us … full of grace and truth”. Another translation says: “…full of unfailing love and faithfulness”. Jesus lived as human and humans must live like Jesus, sharing our faith in unfailing love for others.
At the start of this new year, worse than most of us can remember, there are many people who are lonely, isolated, unwell in body and spirit, grieving loved ones and sorely missing family and friends
SO come on! Let us adore him by looking after our neighbours, strangers, families and friends; spend time with them, if not in person, then on the phone, do the shopping, deliver some food, or small homemade gifts, and help them meet the Jesus we adore.
God of unfailing love and faithfulness,
we ask that you bless us as we try to be like you,
as we try to share our faith,
try to help our neighbours.
Sometimes we forget
even worse, sometimes we choose to turn away
when we see someone in need.
Help us to be as you were in the world
and help us, in loving others
to show them just how much we adore you.