Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
From the song Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Johann Sebastian Bach, lyrics by Robert Bridges
One of the joys of the Christmas season is the beautiful music that is played everywhere. Recently I heard the faint strains of Hark the Herald Angels Sing as I cruised up and down the grocery store aisles. Bing Crosby’s version of O Little Town of Bethlehem greeted me when I stepped into an elevator at a local mall. And when I tuned into satellite radio’s holiday station, I got to enjoy a melodious rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
The lyrics of the song above might not be as familiar to some, but this last movement of a Bach cantata has been played at many Christian festivities since it was written in the early 1700s. In addition to Christmas, you may have heard it at Easter and at weddings. The lyrics that were later added by Bridges are also striking. They call for us to look to Jesus, the joy of man’s desiring. His wisdom and love speak to us, drawing us into an amazing relationship that allows our souls to soar!
Friends, this is what I love most about Christmas. In the days ahead, we can’t help but focus on Jesus. The decorations, wrappings, food, and festivities don’t have to be distractions—instead, they can be constant reminders of what this holy season is all about! And that’s what I long for: I want to really know Jesus more and more this Christmas. I think Paul said it best this way:
Like the apostle, my heart’s desire is to know my Lord and Savior. I want to understand why He left the joys of Heaven in order to save us. I long to love the way He does, reaching out to both the saved and yet-to-be-saved—sharing with them about the joy that He has given me.
Much of the music of this blessed season reminds me of His truths. Let’s look at the final stanzas of Bach’s famous tune:
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.
Thought of the Winter
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord EmmanuelFrom O Little Town of Bethlehem by Phillips Brooks and Lewis Redner