Week 1: Where Shepherds Lately Knelt

Even though today is Epiphany, I wanted to get at least one Christmas hymn in before moving to Epiphany. This is actually a newer hymn, written by Jaroslav Vajda (b.1919). I think there are many Christmas songs and writings that try to put the reader into the story and imagine what it would be like to be there. This hymn does that in a most beautiful way. It doesn’t so much focus on the sentimental or emotional aspects of the Christmas story, but marvels at the theological significance of what is happening. I love the way in which it points out Jesus’ purpose and goal, even as a baby: to live and die for us. I love the way it dramatically points out how Jesus is the fulfillment of OT prophecy, especially Isaiah 9. I love the phrase in stanza four that (in one phrase) rules out the errors of Arminianism/decision theology (unasked), Calvinism (unforced), and Roman Catholicism/other religions of works (unearned). It’s a beautiful description of the way our Savior works his way into our hearts.

Where Shepherd’s lately knelt and kept the angel’s word,
I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;
But there is room and welcome there for me,
But there is room and welcome there for me.

In that unlikely place I find him as they said:
Sweet newborn Babe, how frail! and in a manger bed,
A still, small voice to cry one day for me,
A still, small voice to cry one day for me.

How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,
His prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart I stare:
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me,
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me.

Can I, will I forget how love was born and burned
Its way into my heart unasked, unforced, unearned,
To die, to live, and not alone for me,
To die, to live, and not alone for me.

To listen to a sample of this hymn, click here. or for a midi version. 

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