January 6 is traditionally the day Christians celebrate Epiphany. Its significance is to celebrate when the wise men visited our Lord Jesus as a young child. We’ve experienced Epiphany in new ways since moving to Mexico in 2016. Having a king’s cake with hidden figurines from the nativity has been a special treat for us! Read Matthew 2:1-12 for a Biblical account.
You’ll probably note that the text doesn’t say these men were kings, nor does it say there were three of them. Details like that should not keep us from seeing the beauty and wisdom of what is happening here. There is much to celebrate. These men saw a star. They were wise enough to know that it meant something significant had happened, and they were curious.
I saved my second favorite Christmas carol until the last day, the 12th Day of Christmas Carols & Scripture. For me, the song’s message is not just for Christmas. It evokes the kind of praise we should have all year long. Many of us are certainly ready to receive our King when he comes again! In the meantime, as we find ourselves in the day to day grind, how do we keep our praise alive?
Joy to the world! the Lord is come; let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.
I’ve always thought of this carol as a great lullaby. This is a song that you have to start on a higher note since it starts at its high point. (Do I sound like a musician!) I’m picturing the hand motions I’ve taught children over the years to help them remember the words to the song. I love how spending time with each of these Christmas carols has opened up the flood of memories!
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
At first glance, the title of this carol may bring to mind a table full of men, all enjoying merriment of one kind or another—a glass of ale, a burger and fries, or a song with a good beat playing on the jukebox. We can all picture a time of feeling “merry.” I’m sure we have greeted others plenty of times over the last couple weeks saying, “Merry Christmas!”
So what is it to be merry? Certainly, being cheerful and lively is part of it. Yet I think the refrain of this Christmas song gets it right. It talks of tidings, that is, the Good News of Jesus’ birth. “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.” When we are joyful, we are certainly merry.
Jesus’ birth ushered in the celebration of “noel,” which simply means “born on Christmas.” That’s why we won’t find the word “noel” in the Bible. It does speak of the birth we celebrate on Christmas and is quite a popular word in this carol. It’s good to remember the reason for the season because we often see the Christmas story portrayed in other ways these days. For instance, heartwarming Santa stories, to include one of my favorites, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Our Christmas carol today is fun to sing, and there are six verses! I realized that the Lutheran hymnal from when I was a kid adds a sixth, very powerful verse, not found in most other sources. So, we’ll take a look at that today, too! The refrain or chorus is repeated after each verse. It’s simply, “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.” If you’re like me, the tune is rushing off your lips!