Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Christmas Carols - O Come All ye Faithful

The text to the Carol 'O Come All Ye Faithful' was originally written in Latin. It's Latin name is 'Adeste Fideles'. The intention was for it to be a hymn. This carol is attributed to John Wade, an Englishman. The music to the carol was composed by fellow Englishman John Reading in the early 1700s. The tune was first published in a collection known as "Cantus Diversi" in 1751.

In 1841 Rev. Frederick Oakley is reputed to have worked on the familiar translation of O Come All Ye Faithful which replaced the older Latin lyrics "Adeste Fideles" which is why we now have these familiar and well known lines:

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.
Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens
Of heaven above;
Glory to God,
Glory in the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord.t
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, the
Born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be
All glory given;
Son of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,c
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord.

Most of these old carols are packed full of facts and truth concerning Jesus and His coming into the world. This carol is no different and so we are not to be disappointed. 

Please consider one of the lines with me!

'Joyful and triumphant'

I can understand the joy that comes along with the birth of a new child. Everyone knows that a new baby should be a happy occasion but it can be a time of sorrow again if illness on the part of either the mother or the child is involved. When Jesus was born the angels announced to the shepherds 'good tidings of great joy'. The explanation that they gave was that a 'Saviour' had been born. Jesus would one day die on a cross and as a result provide salvation for all who will believe

My question is - what is the word 'triumphant' doing here in this carol? What is triumphant about a new born. I can only assume that the writer had a full understanding of who Jesus is and what His coming into the world would achieve! 

An angel announced before the birth of Jesus that 'He shall be great'. Never was a truer word spoken! The secret of His greatness started long before His birth. Jesus is uniquely great because of who He is! All the rest of us have to do something to make us great. The Bible teaches that He is the Son of the Highest, the Son of God. The Bible records that the angelic armies of heaven worshipped Him and stood with bated breath waiting to do whatever he requested. His greatness was not like any greatness we have. We are dependent on strength of character aligned to opportunities but Jesus is great, full stop, end of story. 

I don't think that anyone would deny that Jesus was great in His life. Even if you are a total unbeliever, indeed a cynic, you would be hard pushed to find any flaws in the character Jesus from the records we have of His life. Records that include statements from His enemies as well as His friends. Records that are written by men who had no reason to paint Jesus in a good light. Jesus stands unique among men. His character is flawless and his teaching and miracles blessed all manner of people. 

The greatest feature of Jesus' life was His death. This is a paradox in terms but nevertheless it's true. His death was uncalled for in so many ways. 

1, As far as the laws of Judaism were concerned, if they had checked out His claims to be God in flesh, they would have found sufficient evidence to support the claim. Instead they rejected His claim to deity and sentenced Him to death.

2. In respect of the laws of Rome - the conclusion of the judge, Pilate, was 'I find no cause of death in Him'. 

3, Morally Jesus didn't qualify to die. The bible states 'the wages of sin is death'. The Bible states that Jesus never sinned nor could He. Death had no power over Him. He stated one day 'I have power to lay down my life, I have power to take it again'. His death was a sacrifice, He 'died for our sins', 'He suffered the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God'.

The triumph is for those who believe in Him. We are delivered from our sins, freed from the fear of death and saved from the judgement of God.

The questions remains - Are you joyful and triumphant! You could be if you have Christ as your Lord and  Saviour.

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