Wednesday, 23 December 2020

As with gladness men of old

As far as hymn writers go, William Chatterton Dix breaks the mould, especially in his home country of Great Britain. Most of the British hymn writers in the nineteenth century were clergymen, but William was not – he was trained in the business world and worked as a manager of a marine insurance company. He is the author of the wonderful Christmas song As with gladness men of old.

I think this is an important reminder for all of us, that it is not just the clergy who are called to share God’s love and the Gospel, but we all carry that privilege. William Dix chose to use his personal encounter with Christ as a motivation to write his own lyrics and music. He was born in Bristol in 1837 and died in Cheddar (Somerset) in 1898.

In a week where we have been excited to see our own Bethlehem star rising (21 December – Jupiter and Saturn), it is fitting that we note the references to the star in this hymn. As a family we went in search of the star on Monday evening and it was so exciting to get a glimpse of it – it reminded me of the original Bethlehem star and the hope that star gave to all of us.

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold,
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright:
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore your splendour see.


As with joyful steps they sped
Saviour, to your lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
you, whom heaven and earth adore:
so with ever-quickening pace
may we seek your throne of grace.


As they offered gifts most rare
at your cradle plain and bare,
so may we with holy joy
pure and free from sin's alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to you, our heavenly king.


Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way,
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last:
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds your glory hide.


In the heavenly city bright
none shall need created light
you, it’s light, its joy, its crown,
you its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our king.

Let us follow the light of Christ's love this Christmas.  

Living in Grace


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