Tuesday, December 18, 2018
by Matt McMahan
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his
salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the
peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods
of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him; strength and
beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and
strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts. Worship
the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The
world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens
be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge
the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
Hymn 102: Savior of the Nations, Come
(See hymn on next page.)
Awating a birth is a joyous time for us all. Awating a royal birth instantly adds to the excitement with a
sense of ceremony, heraldry and fanfare.
Ambrose, bishop of Milan, some 50 years after the Council of Nicaea, was known for his high regard for
the liturgy and for introducing hymns and antiphonal chants in which the congregation could freely
participate. This was revolutionary for that time. It is within this context that we have Ambrose’s hymn
“Savior of the Nations, Come”.
Martin Luther, a millennium later, following his posting of his 95 Theses, also valued the liturgy and the
singing of the people and hence, the power of hymns in their “heart-language” or native tongue, to bring
people closer to the church, and to the loving embrace of God. Our English version is a translation of
Luther’s paraphrase of the original Latin text by Ambrose. Imagine Luther at table, after the evening
meal, with his companions and friends (he had yet to marry) picking tunes on his lute and talking about
Ambrose’s hymn and how it might sound in German. Revolutionary for the time. The hymn speaks to
Jesus’ person and welcome (“virgin’s son, make here your home”) and Jesus’ purpose on earth (“From
God’s heart the Savior speeds; Back to God, his pathway leads; Out to vanquish death’s command, Back
to reign at God’s right hand”) and his worthiness of our praise (“Praise we sing to Christ the LORD,
Virgin’s son, incarnate Word! To the holy Trinity Praise we sing eternally.).
So that our New Birth in Christ may never become commonplace insignificant, let us join in celebrating
Jesus’ coming as we cherish his welcome, purpose and worthiness among us.
Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin’s son, make here your home.
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the LORD chose such a birth.
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