Today’s Word from Trinity Keyboardist Sheila Weidendorf

It’s a Two-For-One Christmas Special! Today’s Christmastide hymn is derived from a 17th Century Provençal tune that was, in its original form, music for courtly dance. Then poet and composer Nicolas Saboly published his collection of 12 noëls in 1668, significant in that he published them in his native Provençal dialect. The tune (Un Flambeau) was also used as a drinking song in a Molière play right around the same time, which possibly explains the continuing popularity of the tune!

This noël, or Christmas refrain, was essentially a celebrative cradle song! Two country women happen upon Mary and the Christ-child, then take their torches through the night to spread the good news, though being sure to remind well-wishers to approach the baby quietly so as to let him sleep:

Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella!
Bring a torch to the cradle run!
It is Jesus, good folk of the village;
Christ is born and Mary’s calling:
Ah! ah! beautiful is the mother!
Ah! ah! beautiful is her Son!

It is wrong when the Child is sleeping
It is wrong to talk so loud;
Silence, all, as you gather around,
Lest your noise should waken Jesus:
Hush! hush! see how fast He slumbers:
Hush! hush! see how fast He sleeps!

Softly to the little stable,
Softly for the moment come;
Look and see how charming is Jesus,
See how He smiles, Oh see how rosy!
Hush! hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! hush! see how He smiles in dreams.

This old carol takes on new form in our modern worship as the hymn Love Has Come, with text by Ken Bible (who has authored many hymns and devotional songs):

Love has come—a light in the darkness!
Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies.
See, all heaven has come to proclaim it;
hear how their song of joy arises:
Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!
Love! Love! Glory to God on high.

Love is born! Come, share in the wonder.
Love is God now a sleep in the hay.
See the glow in the eyes of his mother;
what is the name her heart is saying?
Love! Love! Love is the name she whispers;
Love! Love! Jesus, Immanuel.

Love has come and never will leave us!
Love is life everlasting and free.
Love is Jesus within and among us.
Love is the peace our hearts are seeking.
Love! Love! Love is the gift of Christmas.
Love! Love! Praise to you, God on high!

Whether Jeanette and Isabella with their torches in the night, set out to proclaim God born among us, or Love as the Light come to dispel the passing darkness, this beautiful hymn makes clear that only Love is the true gift. There is no darkness that does not give way to dawn. Every advent culminates in the blessed birth, the Light of the World born in human form – just like us! Let us always remember, even in our darkest hours, No! – ESPECIALLY in our darkest hours!! – that there is only one path and that is the path of Love. We are called to participate in this Grand Design of Love everlasting, to be beings of Love, ambassadors of Love, to spread this Love with the torches of our own words and deeds and prayers and possibilities. Just as every new birth brings the evidence of new possibility, the birth of the Blessed Child calls us all to pause for a moment, cease the chatter of the day and the clutter in the mind, and bow, deeply, to this Love made flesh, and know that, indeed – all things are possible in this new life.

Click HERE to listen to Trio Indigo’s version of this classic hymn.

Sheila Weidendorf