MP Carols: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Carols for me are the epitome of Christmas (along with that birth of that geez, ya know…the Jesus lad). Their common vibrant and rousing anthems ring true to the joy that Christmas brings. Being in the school choir I gleefully get to soak these anthems up as soon as we meet November 1st. ‘Premature’, many may say, however I find great solace in the familiar tunes and eagerly belt out any and every jingle that comes my way. However, this familiarity sometimes leads me to forget to the truth within the tune and to ignore the genuine and worthy words of worship to the king born on Christmas Day.
‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ has always been a favourite of mine. Perhaps this is due to the (albeit slightly lame) excitement I get as a soprano getting psyched up for the cracking descant of the final verse but it also lies in the words which speak of Christ entering into us meek souls and completely ‘casting out our sin’. It really doesn’t get better than that.
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In a (hopefully successful) attempt to make this less like an English Lit analysis, I thought I would pick out a couple of my favourite lines from the carol which I think we can rejoice wholeheartedly in.
Though it may seem fairly insignificant within the lyrics there is so much momentous joy in calling and viewing Jesus as ‘the everlasting light’ – OUR everlasting light. Just like the shepherds and wise men followed the star which lit their path and guided them to Bethlehem, Jesus is the light that will guide us for eternity and will never forsake us.
For Jesus states in John 8:12: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ meaning that Christians can take peace and refuge in knowing that this almighty king will never forsake his beloved children – he never has and he never will.
The next snippet from the carol which captured me was found in the penultimate verse where it states:
‘But in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.’
This is harder to initially accept. Whilst there is no doubt that this world is a broken one - any news report could tell you that - it is tougher to see that we make up this world of sin too. No one likes to view themselves as ‘meek’ or ‘timid’ but the joy lies amongst that fact as Christ came into this broken world, for US, to save US and no one is to be left behind as Christ has ‘entered in’.
Finally, the words: ‘O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray, Cast out our sin and enter in, be born to us today’ reflect a similar theme of Christ freeing us from sin and entering in us, with us always but reveal something more to be joyous for.
For not only – in the words of Romans 5:8 - did ‘God demonstrate his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ we can have and maintain a relationship with God, talking to him at anytime, anywhere.
Some of the final words are this:‘Descend to us we pray’. We are wanted and loved by God so dearly that as well as sending his own son to be born on Christmas day and consequently die on the cross to take the punishment of our sins away he also wants to have a relationship with us. The creator of the universe knows us, so personally and so wonderfully that none can fathom and he wants to talk to and be with US.
So when it gets to Christmas Day (or any day for that matter) and the first few booming chords of the news of this carol ring out, remember the everlasting light of the Prince of Peace, who came to this world to enter into us all, never to forsake us.
That is true joy!
Hey! I’m Florrie and I’m at school in the big city of London. Born and raised a city girl with a country heart so am usually found outdoors, dancing, painting, eating bananas and when I can, pretending I’m a cool dude and going surfing. I'm so excited to be part of a CU team at school and even more excited that we can chat about God’s word!'