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Friday, December 18, 2015

A Christmas Carol… correction: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

      As I fell away from the Christian faith of my youth, I began to hate hearing Christian Christmas carols heard in public... at shopping places, on broadcasts, etc.  But when I returned again by God's grace, I immediately spotted these.  Nowadays, truly Christian Christmas carols are rarely heard in our society.  I don't know if Simon Malls (Jewish controlled) ever had Christian carols played in their malls, but I don't believe there are any today... not even the music (without words) of any Christian carols.  But here-and-there (e.g. a bookstore, etc.) one will hear these played, even if mixed with rock-and-roll, jazz, or "alternative" music.
      In the LC-MS congregation I returned to in the 1990s, it was the tradition for Christmas eve services to sing many of the well-known, popular Christmas carols.  Although I relished these then, I now realize many, if not most, of these are not of Lutheran origin, but rather English/Anglican/Methodist origin.  One of these carols is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.  One can read of its English history (Wesley and Whitefield) at Wikipedia.  This blog post is about one line in particular from this carol:
Hark! The herald-angels sing
"Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled" ...
So what could be problematic with the last line above?  We turn to what the Apostle Paul tells us:
2 Cor. 5:19-20 – God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation... Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
The carol says "God and sinners reconciled", but the Apostle says God is reconciled to the whole world having forgiven their sins in Christ, and so tells us sinners "Be ye reconciled to God".  So the Christmas carol is partially true and partially misleading when it says "sinners reconciled", implying sinners are reconciled to God.  But they are not until they hear and believe that God is already reconciled to them through Christ.  So the Bible gives us something greater than the line from Charles Wesley's popular English carol.  The Bible says:
And now, 
Be ye  ye sinners of the whole world  reconciled to God!... BELIEVE IT!

So a way to counteract the problematic line is to correct this line, substituting one word:

God with sinners reconciled.

Now with this correction, sinners have something to hang on to... the objective truth that in Christ, God IS ALREADY reconciled to them... they have the truth to believe.
      Although I am not without some joy at hearing Christmas carols, yet I long for the GERMAN LUTHERAN Christmas hymns, especially of Luther.  When I get time, I turn to my confirmation copy of The Lutheran Hymnal and turn to Luther's Christmas hymns... and go Back To Luther.

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