Tuesday, January 2, 2018
"He is still the undefiled, but no more a stranger."
Carol: “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child” – Joseph Simpson Cook (1859-1933)
Tune: TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM
This is one of those story-telling carols of which there are many! In stanza one the Baby is born; in stanza two the angels appear and the shepherds arrive, etc. The teaching point at the center of this carol, however, is the sinlessness of Christ – at his birth, during his earthly life, and (seemingly) beyond!
Hymns and carols have always helped us understand theology and/or tenets of the faith, and here Cook tucked away two references to the fact that Jesus was un-touched by sin entering this world or living in it – a feat of which none of the rest of us can boast.
In the first line of the carol, we sing, “There he lay the undefiled, to the world a stranger.” In THIS hymnline of the last stanza, not only is he still undefiled, he is no longer a stranger! Not only is he a celebrity of sorts – most everybody in the world has heard of him – but we can get to know him personally as the reigning Son of God… and we can join with all the earth in the praise of this Baby laid so gently by his mother on a bed of hay.
Speaking of theology, we are able to get to know Christ partly because of his sinlessness. You just cannot say a bad thing about the way he lived; he cannot be penalized for any infraction. (I’ve obviously watched too much football this week!) His spotless record made it possible for him to stand in for us as the sacrificial Lamb.
We will never become sinless during the new year, but we can become less sinful. Now THAT is an achievable resolution.
Hear a simple solo singing of this carol
P.S. - I’ve mentioned Christmastide a couple of times and want to clarify that a bit for those of you who aren’t “up” on the Church Year. Christmastide is commonly called the Twelve Days of Christmas. This includes eleven days after Christmas and culminates on the twelfth day which is Epiphany… the day we celebrate the coming of the Magi. We observe that in worship on the Sunday nearest that twelfth day – or the first Sunday in the new year. This season includes the celebration of the presentation of Christ at the Temple and his baptism. I won’t, by the way try to fill up another month and a half with Epiphany hymns!!!