During the Twelve Days of Christmas, just as in the Advent season, I am going to reflect on a hymn or carol daily as part of my spiritual practices. I am not sure where all these reflections will take me, but in conversation with my spiritual director, I am going to leave room for both “the head stuff” and “the heart stuff.” Some days might be more of one or another. I invite you to join me, as together we make space to listen, and be present, to sense what God might be up to.
Merry Third Day of Christmas! Oh, how I love the days of Christmas, and the gift of being able to celebrate each day a bit differently. It helps when you are on a quick trip seeing family, and seemingly having a different kind of gathering or event each and every day. That really makes the Twelve Days special for me. Today will be no exception.
We haven’t had all of our family Christmas gatherings yet, but today, will be a bit different. There will be some kind of baby shower later today. I am not sure what to expect, and maybe that’s because I have no expectations. I am just looking forward to a chance to see friends and loved ones for a bit and get to enjoy each other’s company. But with this baby shower as the highlight of today’s plan, the words and melody of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” are coming to mind.
Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the child is Lord of all.
Swiftly winging, angels singing, bells are ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all! Christ the child is Lord of all!
I have found over the years that this beautiful Polish carol is a nice compliment to “Away in the Manger.” At least in the Lutheran hymnal, both melodies of “Away in a Manger,” and the melody of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” are all in F-major and 3/4 time, meaning they can be seamlessly melded together in a nice medley or flow of hymns.
I particularly love the third line of each verse, and the way the melody quickly goes up the scale, building anticipation and excitement for the declaration in the last line of the verses, “Christ the child is Lord of all,” and “Christ the child was born for you!”
Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new
saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you! Christ the child was born for you!
I have written before, outside of my love for music, that this Advent (and now Christmas season) have felt like a strange one. I attribute that largely to the surreal experience of waiting, watching, and being present while my wife is pregnant. I suspect this is just an indicator of the way life will be, and will become. It’s part of life. It’s part of change. Today’s baby shower will be fun, (I think) as long as I don’t have to race to put a diaper on or something ridiculous.
I am not trying to equate this yet to be born baby with Jesus. Thank goodness they are not one in the same. But it’s making this understanding of God a little more real for me this year. And I am grateful for the reminder and promise that, “Christ the child was born for you!”
Also, as I re-read the words, “Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow…” I have to admit, it’s a good day. I am grateful for all of the love in my life. I know there’s lots of work to be done in our world to meet the needs of our neighbors, and I am called to be a part of that. But one of those things and vocations for me at least that I feel called to, I now believe is to also be a parent. So, here we go. Life’s adventures continue, and only God knows where they might go and lead.
Credit/Reference: “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” Polish carol, tr. Edith M. G. Reed, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 276.