Last week many churches around the world celebrated Epiphany, a Christian festival held on January 6 in commemoration of the coming of the Magi, the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In the Eastern Church it is the commemoration of the baptism of Christ. This festival day falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations it signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. While the wise men are often pictured in the traditional nativity scenes, they probably actually arrived long after the birth of Christ. It is interesting that this week's hymn choice is a traditional Christmas carol that shares the journey of the wise men. The words were actually written by William Chatterton Dix, on January 6, 1859, while he was ill in bed. Most British hymn writers in the nineteenth century were clergymen, but Dix (1837-1898) was a notable exception. Born in Bristol, England, the son of a doctor, his career was spent mostly in insurance. But he had a life long passion for writing lyrics for hymns and carols. The music was composed by the German musician Conrad Kocher (1786-1872). The same melody is used in the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth." Using Matthew 1: 1-11 as his theme, Dix likens the journey of the wise men who came to worship the Christ to our own Christian pilgrimage. He emphasizes this by using the pattern "as they - so may we." Stanzas 4 and 5 are a prayer that our journey on the "narrow way" may bring us finally to heaven where Christ is the light (Rev. 21:23) and where we may perfectly sing his praise. What a challenge for us in our daily walk and what a glorious hope that we have of a final destination where all is perfect. I am always sad when Christmas is over and the beautiful traditional carols are put away for another year. So here is one more chance to meditate on a meaningful carol and hopefully apply it to our lives. May we be led to the Savior, may we daily seek His mercy seat, and may we give Him our costliest treasures - all that we are and have.
(1) As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.
(2) As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
(3) As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.
(4) Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.
(5) In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!
Listen to and sing along with this presentation of this hymn. LISTEN
Here is a special presentation of the hymn by a group of children. CHILDREN