Dec 13, 2016

Christmas in the Hymns: True Peace, Joy, and Beauty

By Alisha Schimm

If you go to a day school or Sunday school Christmas program this month, you will most likely get to hear the children of your school or parish tell you, through scripture, song, and drama, just who was in that manger over 2,000 years ago, on the first Christmas. You will also hear them say why His incarnation was so important for the world. Here are a few  of the hymns you might hear.

“Away in a Manger is an anonymous text that has been attributed to Martin Luther; whether that’s true or not, we are unsure. Still, it is a hymn that young and old adore, for the beautiful scene the text describes at the first nativity:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay. (LSB 364)

Christmas time is when we can imagine the beauty, the peace, and the joy of that night. Certainly, in other hymns such as “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” and “Infant Holy Infant Lowly,” we are shown the same picture: falling snow, beaming light, a sleeping Jesus, running shepherds, singing angels, kneeling wise men, and a glowing, peaceful mother Mary. In fact, to many Christians and non-believers alike, this is often as far as we go in our remembrance, understanding, and celebration of Christmas. Yet, Christmas is so much more, because of why Jesus came, and what He came to do.

If you look in your Lutheran Service Book, there are several Christmas hymns that point to the reason Jesus came--to die on a cross, alone, beaten, scorned, and bloody. The crucifixion of Jesus was nothing peaceful, nor beautiful, nor joyous. It was ugly, violent, and terrible. It was a costly, painful price for the redemption of all mankind. Yet out of His great love, He endured it all for us. This stanza of “What Child is This points us to Good Friday:

Why lies He in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for you, for me; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary! (LSB 370)

And in “All My Heart Again Rejoices:

See the Lamb, our sin once taking to the cross, suffering loss, full atonement making. For our life His own He tenders, and His grace all our race fit for glory renders. (LSB 360)  

And also inGod Loves Me Dearly:

I was in slavery, sin, death, and darkness. God’s love was working to make me free. Jesus, my Savior, Himself did offer. Jesus, my Savior paid all I owed. Therefore, I’ll say again: “God loves me dearly, God loves me dearly, God loves me dearly, loves even me.” (LSB 392)

This Christmas let the true beauty, peace, and joy wash over you in these Christmas hymns: be in awe of His beauty; your sins have been forgiven. The blood of the Lamb washes you clean.

The Light Eternal, breaking through, Made the world to gleam anew; His beams have pierced the core of night, He makes us children of the light. Alleluia! (LSB 382)

Be filled with His peace; remember the true peace that we have in knowing our sins are forgiven in Christ.

Softly from His lowly manger, Jesus calls, One and all, “You are safe from danger. Children, from the sins that grieve you, You are freed; All you need, I will surely give you.” (LSB 360)

Be comforted; Jesus, who became human for you, knows all your sorrows. He cares for you, and has a plan to bring you to heaven one day.

O Savior, child of Mary, who felt our human woe; O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know: Bring us, at length, we pray to the bright courts of heaven, and to the endless day. (LSB 359)

Finally, rejoice! Be filled with joy, for Christ was born for you!

All this for us our God has done, Granting love through His own Son. Therefore, all Christendom, rejoice and sing His praise with endless voice. Alleluia! (LSB 382)  


Alisha is a rostered director of parish music for the LCMS, and recently accepted a call to serve at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. She is a graduate of Concordia Nebraska, where she met her husband, Aaron. Her hobbies include traveling and cooking, as well as singing, organ, and piano.

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