December 8, 2018
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Chalice Hymnal 124
This is a favorite of mine for several reasons. It begins by emphasizing the awe, wonder, and mental attitude of the season: with fear and trembling stand, ponder nothing earthly minded.
I particularly appreciate the multiple references to Jesus as God and human, not just God’s Son which might imply that He was separate and inferior when compared to God. To make this clear, the hymn uses phrases such as this: Truly God, yet born of Mary, Word of God in human vesture, and Light of Light descended from realms of endless day.
Several purposes of His coming are noted. He came to bless us, to demand homage, to give His own self for Heavenly food, to vanish the powers of hell, and to clear away the shadows of life.
Verses 3 and 4 conjure images of angels in ranks heralding His birth, and bowing, with wings, sleepless eyes and veiled faces, while crying Alleluia!
The giving of His body and His blood for Heavenly food and vanishing the powers of hell foretell His impending death – a somber note but a crucial part of the story.
The lyrics portray such vivid images that they make the story of the birth of Jesus poignant and memorable. The haunting, minor key melody enhances the lyrics.
Many carols focus on the physical details of His birth: Bethlehem, manger, shepherds, angels, star, magi, etc. While these are important and not to be forgotten, this carol reminds us of the lengths God went to for humanity, and the reason He became human.
Submitted with awe and wonder,
Leave a Reply.