HymnSite.com's Suggested Hymns

First Sunday After Christmas

Unifying Theme:
The Lord Exalted

Scripture Theme Hymns
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 The Lord makes righteousness and praise spring up before all nations 58: Glory to God, and Praise and Love
189: Fairest Lord Jesus
Psalm 148 Praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted 280: All Glory, Laud, and Honor
686: O Gladsome Light
Luke 2:22-40 The servant has seen the Lord's salvation 156: I Love to Tell the Story
369: Blessed Assurance
384: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Galatians 4:4-7 When the time had fully come, God sent his Son 267: O Love, How Deep
472: Near to the Heart of God

Featured Hymn
O Gladsome Light

Hymn #686
Words: Ancient Greek hymn; trans. by Robert S. Bridges
Music by Louis Bourgeois, 1547; harm. by Claude Goudimel, 1551

Have you ever looked into the sky at night and stood in awe of God's creation? The Bible talks about it at the very first verse: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The writer of Genesis knew how to begin a story! Those simple words capture our imagination today as much as they must have in the days of oral traditions before the story was finally written down.

I remember staring at the stars with my own son. We were standing in a field far away from cities or any other lights. The sky was black--as black as night--and the stars stood out brilliantly. We could see so many stars! It was unlike anything that we had ever seen from our back yard in the city. He pointed out everything he recognized, and I pointed out other things that I was familiar with. (My part of this discussion didn't last very long!) Together we learned that being able to see so many stars actually made it more difficult to recognize the few stars that we did know. Yet, seeing the big picture with all of those stars made "our" stars seem even more special. It made us feel like we were part of something much, much bigger than we had thought about before.

This week's featured hymn, O Gladsome Light, dates back to the fourth century or earlier. It is fascinating to imagine what must have been going through the minds of the first Greek Christians who wrote and sang the hymn. The Greek culture was well known for its philosophy and intellectual development. It was important to them to understand and be able to explain "the big picture" of the world and the universe around them. Many of the New Testament epistles were written to churches founded in Greek cities. In this environment the Christian faith grew.

What were the "stars" in the Christian faith that so captivated these "big picture" people? The teachings of love? Of hope? Of joy? Certainly all of these were wonderful to the early Christians in Greece. In the words of this hymn, though, we find another theme--the theme of adoration for the Creator, the giver of life. In this Christmas season, read these words and take them to heart.

1. O gladsome light, O grace
of our Creator's face,
the eternal splendor wearing;
celestial, holy blest,
our Savior Jesus Christ,
joyful in your appearing!
2. As fades the day's last light
we see the lamps of night,
our common hymn outpouring,
O God of might unknown,
you, the incarnate Son,
and Spirit blest adoring.
3. To you of right belongs
all praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, lifegiver.
You, therefore, O Most High,
the world does glorify
and shall exalt forever.

Enjoy the stars. Feel the warmth of the sun. But even better, revel in the gladsome light of the Creator.

God bless you--
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Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.