Comfort and Joy

What is your favourite Carol? For me, and I am sure for you too, it would just not be Christmas without hearing and singing as many as possible of the Christmas Carols that we love. For example: Once in Royal David’s City, Away in a Manger, While Shepherds watched their Flocks by Night; O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night and of course Hark the Herald Angels Sing……have I missed any that you would have on your list?!

For most of 2020, we have sadly not be able to sing together have we, including in church, but as I write this, I am really hoping and praying that by the time we get to December 25th we might at least for one day be allowed to sing some Christmas Carols, because if not, it will be the first time no singing has taken place since 1208, which was the last time we were closed some 812 years ago!

However, even if we aren’t able to sing, the great news is that the St Peter’s and Blessed Mary Choir are going to be recording lots of Christmas Carols so we can enjoy them via social media over December – please keep a look out via the St Peter’s face book page  and you tube channel which can be accessed via the St Peter’s website

So, the most popular Carols are wonderful, but may I let you into a secret, my favourites are none of these but rather In the Bleak mid-winter and God rest you Merry Gentlemen. Here are the lyrics of the latter:

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Why do I love these? First, because I love the atmospheric tunes, but most importantly for the tidings (messages) they bring. In God Rest Your Merry Gentleman, we hear the wonderful news that at Christmas we can find both Comfort and Joy. Joy, because Jesus was the Son of God…..Jesus was God come to earth in human form so we can know what God is like and know him. And Christmas is also Comfort, comfort in knowing that Jesus came to save us….to save us from ourselves going astray and Satan’s power in the world, and we really need a Saviour in our own lives and in our world.

At Christmas we often hope don’t we that Christmas might be simpler, with less rushing about and less focus on material things. Well this year we have an opportunity, albeit not by choice, to get back to the simpler essence of Christmas and so really find the Comfort and Joy which we so need. At the first Christmas, only small groups of people came to visit Jesus (groups of 6 perhaps?!) so if we can only be with our families or a few other people, and whilst we will be thinking of other loved ones we might want to be with but can’t, we will be experiencing something of the first simple Christmas for Jesus and his family in which Comfort and Joy are really found.

With my prayers for December and this unique Christmas

Revd James – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upham

3rd December 2020

Filed under
James' Blog