The Worship Quote of the Week for (12/14/2004):

A Nativity Hymn
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a text about the Incarnation. Poet Ben Jonson, one of England’s finest dramatists, was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. This hymn is saturated with the truth of Scripture. As you read it (perhaps with a bit of an English accent), see if you can tell which phrases are based on verses from Luke 2, John 1, Acts 3, Philippians 2, Romans 5, Romans 8, and 1 Timothy 1.


I sing the Birth was born to-night,
The Author both of life and light;
The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, th’ Eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.

The Father’s wisdom willed it so,
The Son’s obedience knew no No.
Both wills were in one stature,
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made Flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win,
Who made Himself the price of sin
To make us heirs of glory?
To see this Babe all innocence,
A martyr born in our defense:
Can man forget this story?

—Ben Jonson (1572-1637), from A TREASURY OF CHRISTIAN VERSE, selected and edited by Hugh Martin, London: SCM Press Ltd., 1959, p. 36.

[“The Son’s obedience knew no No.” That’s my favorite line. And now we realize that Christ’s forgiveness knows no No because he “made Himself the price of sin/ to make us heirs of glory?” Wow! May these days of Advent and Christmas be filled with a keen awareness of God’s immeasurable love for you. “Let every heart prepare Him room.”]

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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