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All My Heart with Joy is Springing

All my heart with joy is springing,
While in air everywhere
Angel choirs are singing.
Hear them to the shepherds telling:
“Christ is born! On this morn
God with man is dwelling.”

To this lower world descendeth,
From above, He whose love
All our sorrows endeth.
He who breath and being gave us,
Quits the skies, lives and dies
In our flesh to save us.

Christ our Lamb so meek and loving
Dries our tears, calms our fears,
All our sins removing;
Christ our Lamb, who suffers with us;
He can quell death and hell,
And to peace restore us.

Hark, from yon dark manger lowly,
Breezes soft seem to waft
Gentle words and holy:
“Sigh no more, away with sadness
Brethren dear; I am here,
Bringing hope and gladness.”

Come ye now, and kneel before Him;
Mortals all, great and small,
Worship and adore Him:
Love your King, whose love invites you:
Lo, His star from afar
To His dwelling lights you.

Ye, whom galling want oppresses
Here ye find comfort kind,
Balm for your distresses:
Noblest treasures here are given;
Riches true wait for you
Poor of Christ, in Heaven.

Ye who strive with fierce temptation,
Sorrow-stung, conscience-wrung,
Here is consolation:
For the woes which men inherit
Christ can feel, Christ will heal
Every wounded spirit.

Kind Redeemer, knit Thee to us;
Quelling sin, reign within,
With Thy grace renew us:
Make us Thine by true repentance;
Let us hear, free from fear,
Lord, Thy final sentence.

Ours be Thy pure love, O Saviour,
Ours Thy faith, strong in death,
Ours Thy meek behaviour;
Here let us, on Thee depending,
In Thee die, with Thee fly
To the bliss unending.

Paul Gerhardt 1656, transl. from German by Benjamin H. Kennedy 1863

It is somewhat fitting that on the eve of lent we think fresh about Christmas!  The child who was laid into an animal feeding trough was born to be the Son of God nailed to the cross as The Son of Man.  He is our hope – not because of Christmas but because of Easter.  We could have had Christmas and celebrated a Divine visitation but Easter transforms the miracle of incarnation into the the wonder of salvation.

Jesus knows our fleshly life: He took it on, as His own, and paid a penalty which was ours and not His that he might grant to us a gift which we could never have deserved.  In that gift – eternal life – is the very essence and definition of joy.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16


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