5th Day of Christmas: “When God Is a Child”

Continuing these gifts for each day of Christmas, tonight I have a hymn for you. This season around Christmas is so full of familiar carols and Advent hymns that it’s hard to make room for new music. Hard until you come across a hymn of such beauty that it simply must be sung. That happened for me, early in December, when I discovered the hymn “When God Is a Child,” by the incomparable hymn writer Brian Wren. It’s not in any United Methodist hymnals yet, but it’s at page 132 of the Chalice Hymnal, of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The full lyrics can be viewed at this link or you can listen here.

Wren’s refrain reminds us that when God comes to us as a child, some amazing things happen: “The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong. And none shall be afraid.” Paired with the beautiful hymn tune Moon Beams, by Joan Collier Fogg, those last words ring high on the staff and with deep poignancy: “And none shall be afraid.” What a profound statement of what we are waiting for, during Advent, and at Christmas. A time when none shall be afraid. Don’t you long for that to be true?

We sang this hymn all through Advent, starting with our choir and then as a congregation. When the choir practiced it, I asked whether some would solo on a couple of the verses. Two new members volunteered, who had never sung alone before. After we tried it out, they decided to sing together, and they came repeatedly that week, to practice the tune and get the words straight. They sang verse three–not perfectly, but with energy and the joy the lyric names:  “Joy is a song that welcomes the dawn, telling the world that the Savior is born.” When the choir joined on the refrain (quoted above), I thought, Wow, we are living out those words, right now, with these sisters who dared to lift their voices before God and us all. The last are first, and the weak are strong! This is what it looks like when we’re no longer afraid! What a blessing to glimpse that happening, right there in our midst.

Maybe this hymn will bless you, too, in this season or beyond.


Scroll down or click for the first 4 days of Christmas:

Day 4:  Kindreds podcast

Day 3:  Air fryer

Day 2:  Becoming a Patr(e)on

Day 1:  LeVar Burton Reads

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