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Here's a sing-along medley for Christmas

Dec. 25, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Joy to all The Herald-Dispatch readers and to the whole world: Today we celebrate the premier event of human history, the birth of Jesus the Messiah and ultimately redeemer of mankind's sins through the shedding of His blood on Calvary.

Not one song nor a hundred suffices to mark this transcendent birth.

Like Dante in the last canto of Paradiso, we truly must fall silent in awe as words fail us and we contemplate the wonder of God's love for a fallen world.

Political correctness move to the side. On this day of all days, our greeting to one another should be "Merry Christmas!" Not "Happy Holidays."

Let the ka-ching of the cash registers fall away in the hush of families gathered around the creche of a living room stable scene of Joseph, Mary and the newborn babe.

May we somehow find our own personal expressions of joy and gratitude for the arrival of this infant Savior.

"Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king./ Peace on earth, and mercy mild/

God and sinner reconciled."

Angels are definitely "in" on this wondrous birthday jubilee, when their chants float across a chilled eastern Mediterranean landscape:

"It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old/ as angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold."

If only we humans could wax as poetic and as ecstatic on this landmark day as did the angels, the simple shepherds drawn to the radiance of the stable, or later

"We three kings (who) from Orient are/ bearing gifts we traverse afar/

field and fountain, moor and mountain

following yonder star....."

All the right notes are struck in the four Gospel accounts, the journey on donkeyback to Bethlehem to register according to Herod's decree, the holy couple's finding "no room at the inn," and being relegated to a stable out back with a manger of straw for the Christ child's first crib.

A penchant for the poor? It starts here in you. "Oh, little town of Bethlehem/ how still we see thee lie....."

So let us join in a resounding chorus of "Joy to the world/ the Savior's come/ Let earth receive her king/ Let every heart/ prepare him room/ And heaven and nature sing....."

To conclude I want to hark back to one of our earliest Christian refrains, lines that date, as I understand them, all the way back to the first century and still point to the heart of the spirit-filled life:

"Ubi caritas et amor/ ubi caritas Deus ibi est"

One lyrical and free translation I've seen goes: "Where charity and love prevail/ there God is ever found." If we can get that right, we can scarcely go wrong with the way we live our lives.

Lastly, a plea that we might together raise to our Creator, at once a confession of our waywardness and also an auguring of His forgiveness and gentle guidance as we move through the pilgrimage which is our life:

"Save your people, O Lord/ Show us the way to go home/ We have been wandering/ far from Your love/ Save your people, O Lord."

Now "Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!"

John Patrick Grace formerly covered the Vatican for The Associated Press, based in Rome, and later served as religion editor for The Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record. He is now a book editor and publisher and lives in eastern Cabell county.



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