Silent Night – A spellbinding carol about Jesus as God’s promise for peace

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3

‘Silent Night’ is such a familiar carol during Christmas, especially with the first stanza keeping us spellbound. We imagine the beautiful scene of the birth of Christ, when the baby is at peace and all is quiet.

What an awesome sight it must’ve been as glories streamed from Heaven afar. The angels were singing praises to God and declaring peace to men. However, this terrified the shepherds! The angel reassured them and told them not to be afraid.

This carol brings us the message that Jesus Christ is our Lord and the Son of God. His holiness and love is described as “love’s pure light”. The phrase “dawn of redeeming grace” helps us to understand that the grace of God reaches us through Christ – to save us from our sins and death.

The coming of Christ is also the arrival of God’s healing light. With Christ, came God’s abundant grace. In Christ, the grace of God appeared and offered salvation to all. Even then, only those who receive Jesus and believe in His name will be saved and be called the children of God.

We are reminded that God sent His only begotten Son to earth below. God blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. When Jesus embraces mankind, we receive God’s reconciling love as He offers forgiveness to every prodigal sinner who has strayed away from His fatherly love.

Finally, ‘Silent Night’ closes with Jesus as God’s promise for peace. Through Jesus, we have peace with God, peace within us, and peace among ourselves. Mindful of mankind’s plight, God has acted decisively to free us all from our earthly woes and bring healing and peace where it is greatly needed.

What a precious gospel! What a precious birth! What precious peace we have been given!

Jesus, you are love’s pure light. You are God’s abundant grace which saves us from our sins and gives us salvation. Indeed, we are children of God because of You.

The First Noel – An English Folk Carol To Signal The King Of Israel’s Birth

“Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:2

‘The First Noel’ is an old classical English folk carol which was first published in 1823. The word “Noel”, or its variant spelling “Nowell”, is an old way of saying “Christmas”. The refrain of the song calls for the joyful celebration of Christmas because the King of Israel was born on Christmas day.

As we listen to the first stanza of ‘The First Noel’, we hear of the shepherds who were watching over their flocks. They saw an angel come from heaven to tell them the good news of the birth of the Saviour. How amazing that must have been!

The next four stanzas speak of the experience of the magi from the East. They saw the star that signified the birth of Jesus. They were led by it day and night to a “house” in Bethlehem where Jesus was.

What did the magi do upon arriving? In the fifth stanza, we hear how they paid homage to the child and recognised Him for who He was. They bowed down with reverence and worshipped him on their knees. They also presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As we hear the final stanza, let our hearts rise together to worship and thank God for what He has done for us through Christ. God has redeemed us from our sins with the blood that was shed on the cross by Jesus, the One who was born on Christmas Day.

When we sing ‘The First Noel’, may our voice of gratitude and joy ring loud and clear as God brings people back to Him.

Father God, thank you for sending Jesus on the First Noel! Just as the magi paid homage and worshipped Jesus, we bow our hearts now to the King whose shed blood has redeemed us from our sins. Thank you for being our Saviour!

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing – Peace Comes When God And Man Are Reconciled Through Jesus

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:18

This much-loved carol was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. He begins the song with the word “Hark”, which means “Listen”. We are called to listen to the songs of the angels just as the shepherds had heard them on that first Christmas night.

The carol explains how peace comes when God and man are reconciled through the mediating work of Jesus Christ. All the nations are urged to rise and join the triumphant song of the angels, proclaiming, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

We sing praises in the second stanza that declares Christ as the everlasting Lord, adored by the highest heaven. When the set time has fully come, we behold Him come as the offspring of a virgin’s womb. It may be hard to understand the phrases, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead” and “hail the incarnate deity”, but they express the mystery of Christ, fully divine and fully human.

This Christmas carol then points us to hail Christ as the Prince of Peace, who gives us peace beyond all this world could offer. It is His righteousness that saves us. He comes to us like the rising of the sun, and brings with Him healing in every way. He brings true light and life because He himself is the Light and Life.

Christ is acknowledged as our personal Saviour in the fourth stanza. We are carrying the nature of God which has been marred due to the fall of humankind into sin. Our corrupt nature needs to be replaced by a new nature. Our hearts need to be conquered by the love of the Son of God, and to become His humble home. Significantly, Christ who is the woman’s offspring foretold in Genesis 3:15, not only crushes the serpent’s head at the cross, but also in our hearts: “Bruise in us the serpent’s head”.

Hence, this old nature is replaced by the new nature, which is the character of Christ. Christ is formed in each believing heart. This is achieved through the mystic union between Christ and us so that He dwells in our inner being in order to fill us with all the fullness of God.

Hark! This wonderful salvation began on Christmas Day, when the Son of God, our Saviour, was born in Bethlehem.

Christ, you are our Saviour. Emmanuel, God with us. Let us be your humble home as You dwell in us and form godly character in us.

Joy To The World – Sing Joyfully At The Coming Of The Rightful King Of The World

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In this carol, we sing joyfully to the world and to the coming of the rightful King of the world. He is the One who made it and all who are in it. Every heart is urged to prepare and make room for Him so that He can be received gladly into our hearts. Nature will also join heaven in song. When Christ comes again, creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay.

We are invited to join heaven and nature in their jubilant song. The creation: land, rocks, hills and plains – will also join in the great chorus, where all of creation will sing praises to God.

This joy is continued when Christ removes the curse of sin from the human story. Genesis 3 spells out the effects of the curse in the human heart and on the earth. However, when Christ returns in glory, there will be no more sin and sorrow in human lives, and no more thorns on the ground. The curse will be removed far from us, and the blessings will flow relentlessly from the heart and hand of the God who loves us.

The final stanza gives us hope of how life would be in the eternal kingdom under the perfect rule of Christ. He will rule with “truth and grace”, a phrase that connects the song with Christ’s first coming.

Christmas does not only look back at the birth of Christ, but also towards His second coming. Both comings are connected and make each other meaningful. ‘Joy to the World’ helps us to understand this and urges us to break into joyful songs as we look back in faith and gratitude, and look forward with hope.

Jesus, you are the joy of the world. We make room in our heart to receive You with gladness. We look forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more death, for You will rule with truth and grace.

Go, Tell It On The Mountain – The News Of Jesus’ Birth Is To Be Shared Far And Wide

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, 

who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

This Christmas carol begins with the familiar refrain, which is repeated after each stanza. This refrain dominates the hymn, both in terms of the lyrics and the music. The news that Christ the Saviour of the world has been born is such history-changing news that it cannot be kept to oneself. It must be broadcast widely and constantly!

The reference to the mountains comes from Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” The messenger of this good news climbs the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. No obstacle could stand in the way.

This Christmas carol tells the Christmas story as recorded in Luke’s gospel. The shepherds of Bethlehem were visited by angels who brought the good news from heaven that the long-awaited Messiah had come. The Saviour of the world had been born in Bethlehem. The dark night was filled with heaven’s glory and the shepherds were terrified.

But the angel told them not to be afraid, for he had brought good news. The shepherds then heard the angelic choir sing the good news that needs to ring out across the world.

The good news is explained in the final stanza. God has sent us salvation through the newly born Jesus, His only Son. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and in so doing He saves us.

Messengers of the gospel crossed big mountains and oceans to bring the good news to many nations. What about us? All that may be needed is to cross the office to talk to our colleagues, or cross the street to share with our neighbours the good news.

It is not possible to celebrate Christmas without having a desire to tell others about Christ our Saviour. This song speaks to our hearts, feet, and lips: “Go and tell.” Christmas carols … let us sing together and let them bring men to God, and men to men.

Father God, we thank you that Jesus is our Saviour. As we celebrate Christmas, may the Holy Spirit guide and help us to tell others about the good news of Christ.