beautiful the story

6 12 2010

I found today’s carol confusing as a kid.  The opening lines, “Gentle Mary laid her child / Lowly in a manger” just didn’t fit: Jesus was her baby, not Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry’s books. Why was Lowly in a manger?  Where was baby Jesus?  Do you have a carol lyric that confused you as a kid?

Here are the full lyrics that I’ve grown to understand and love:

Gentle Mary laid her child
Lowly in a manger;
There he lay, the undefiled,
To the world a stranger.
Such a babe in such a place,
Can he be the Saviour?
Ask the saved of all the race
Who have found his favor.

Angels sang about his birth,
Wise men sought and found him;
Heaven’s star shone brightly forth
Glory all around him.
Shepherds saw the wondrous sight,
Heard the angels singing;
All the plains were lit that night,
All the hills were ringing.

Gentle Mary laid her child
Lowly in a manger;
He is still the undefiled,
But no more a stranger.
Son of God of humble birth,
Beautiful the story;
Praise his Name in all the earth,
Hail! the King of Glory!

The story is beautiful, because it is simultaneously true and yet seemingly unbelievable.  Seven-hundred years before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Isaiah wrote,

And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:14, 15)

There is no other God like our God, the true and living God who came down to his people.  Perhaps one of the most amazing parts of the Incarnation is that God made himself lowly like us, that we might be holy as he is holy.  Milton captured some of the beauty of this story when he wrote that God “Forsook the courts of everlasting day, / And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.”

Come, King of Glory!


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4 responses

6 12 2010
audra vrzheshch

OK, the lowly thing cracked me up, I didn’t finish reading the blog entry because the opening was just too good. I am glad to finally get on your blog, it has taken me awhile.

8 12 2010
Julie

Lowly the Worm had me laughing out loud. My mom thought the angel was Harold, as in Hark, the Harold angel. As a kid, I never understood why the church had a problem with youth in Asia.

29 05 2012
Katie @ Making This Home

ha! Lowly the Worm. For sure. Thanks for this big smile, Joel.

29 05 2012
Joel

You’re welcome, Katie. Keep smiling as you live your story helping others see and share their stories!

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