The Worship Quote of the Week for (12/25/2007):

"Gathered Round Your Table"
This week’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a powerful Christmas Eve Communion poem by the gifted Canadian hymn writer Margaret Clarkson. Like many of the great hymns and carols of Advent and Christmas, this text contrasts the joy and grief of the Incarnation--the joy of Messiah's birth and the grief of his sacrificial death.

Gathered round your table on this holy eve,
Viewing Bethlehem's stable we rejoice and grieve.
Joy to see you lying in your manger bed;
Weep to see you dying in our sinful stead.

Prince of Glory, gracing heav'n e'er time began,
Now for us embracing death as Son of Man.
By your birth so lowly, by your love so true,
By your cross most holy, Lord, we worship you!

Bethlehem's Incarnation, Calvary's bitter cross
Wrought for us salvation by your pain and loss.
Now we fall before you in this holy place.
Prostrate we adore you for your gift of grace.

With profoundest wonder, we your body take--
Laid in manger yonder, broken for our sake.
Hushed in adoration we approach the cup--
Bethlehem's pure oblation freely offered up.

Christmas Babe so tender, Lamb who bore our blame,
How shall sinners render praises due your Name?
Do your own good pleasure in the lives we bring;
In your ransomed treasure reign forever King!

--Margaret Clarkson (1959), from A SINGING HEART, Hope Publishing Company, 1987. The hymn is included in HYMNAL FOR WORSHIP AND CELEBRATION (Word) in a lovely setting by Tom Fettke under the title "A Communion Hymn for Christmas." Our choir and congregation sing it once each year--as the bread and cup are passed at our Evening Christmas Communion service. Give it a try next year.

[May that final stanza be my prayer and yours as we contemplate the scene at the manger: In believing, we are his ransomed treasure, and he is our reigning King. Amen!]

============================================ (“O Come, O Come, Immanuel”) (C. S. Lewis) (Ambrose and Luther) (Dutch Carol) (Ulrich Shaffer) (Dudley-Smith) ("The Gift of Gifts") ("Of the Father's Love Begotten") (Spurgeon) (Augustine and Lewis) (Thomas à Kempis)

Have a great week!

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

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