A number of years ago, our friend Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, made a nice observation about his experiences of successive Christmases, one that has stuck in my mind as equally true for me, and perhaps for many of us. He observed that every year there seems to be a particular Christmas carol that grabs his attention early in the season, often because one particular line or image in that carol suddenly opens itself, revealing a fresh meaning that he’d never before noticed.
I’ve had the same experience. I remember being struck a couple of years ago when, in listening to the French carol we call “O Holy Night,” a song I always tended to find both schmaltzy and tedious, I noticed the words “Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/ Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”
Maybe it was just a quirk of timing, but those last six words hit me with unexpected force, and I wondered why I had never noticed them before...
A wonderful article from Touchstone magazine. You can read the rest here.
I will say that "O Holy Night" has always been my favorite carol, and precisely because of those words that he mentioned: "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth."
Just writing those words gives me the chills.
Our Lord loved us enough... valued us enough... to become one of us. To leave Heaven and all of its glory to become ONE OF US. Forever. To somehow be both truly God and truly man is a concept that always blows me away.
How did He leave behind everything to become a helpless infant who depended upon His parents for everything? How did He trade praise, worship, and adoration for chores, scratchy clothing, and rude people jostling Him in the marketplace?
I will never understand, but I will always be forever grateful.