It all began with a tiny infant. Not just any child. This was a unique baby—an “infant holy”—God himself being gently placed in a smelly cattle stall. It was humility personified and, indeed, a great mystery—an event so miraculous that it is beyond our comprehension.
During this beautiful season, we sing Christmas carols that touch people’s hearts. The origin of the carol Infant Holy, published in 1908, is unknown. Yet when married with the traditional Polish melody, it resonates deeply within the human heart. The blending of the simple lyrics with the haunting melody speaks to the profound truth of the Incarnation.
Infant holy, infant lowly,
For his bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Christ came in the form of a baby to announce that he is Lord of all. Together with the angels, we instinctively want to celebrate his birth.
Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story,
Tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the babe was born
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Some, however, due to circumstances of life, find it very difficult. The carol encourages us all to rejoice, to be “free from sorrow,” for the Lord has come to bring healing to a broken world and comfort to those who mourn. Therefore we can all give praise, for tomorrow is a new day. We are able to “greet the morrow” with anticipation because of the assurance of Christ’s presence within us. How, then, can we share this glorious truth this Christmas?
Give Our Time
Christmas offers many opportunities to volunteer our time in helping others. This might mean manning a Christmas kettle to raise money for those in need or serving a Christmas dinner to those who are hungry. It could mean packing food hampers or sorting toys to bring a sparkle of joy to the face and heart of a young child Christmas morning. It’s a time when we must think less of our own comfort, our own receiving, and focus on bringing happiness to others. “Noels ringing.”
Give Our Talent
Many think that talents are for those who can perform—the musician, the public speaker, the up-front person. But God has given to all of us various gifts and talents. Some are easily seen by others, yet many live out their talents and gifts behind the scenes. Maybe it’s the ability to pick up or deliver Christmas kettles, or to give our talent in the monetary sense. Or it could be as simple as cooking a meal, baking for the elderly, cleaning someone’s house or babysitting for a single mom. There are so many things we can do in the name of the Christ Child to help relieve the daily stress placed on others. You may have never thought of these deeds as talents or gifts, yet what a wonderful time of year to share what we do have and bring joy to others. “Tidings bringing.”
The last verse of the beautiful carol In the Bleak Mid-Winter asks the question: “What can I give him?” What does the Christ Child really want from us this Christmas, and all the days to follow? The carol answers the question in the very last line: “Give him my heart.” Yes, we can give our time and talents. But most important is the giving of ourselves to him who is King of kings and Lord of lords. This is what God wants, above all.
Scripture tells us that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). This Infant Holy—Jesus Christ—became part of us. How wonderful to know that he was born for me and for you! Could we ask for anything better than this?
My wife and I take this opportunity to wish God’s rich blessing upon each one of you this Christmas season.
Commissioner William W. Francis is the Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory. His wife, Commissioner Marilyn Francis, is the Territorial President for Women’s Ministries. Commissioners Francis have two adult children, Captain William Marshall and Susan Marjorie, plus six grandchildren.