Wednesday December 2, 2020
For our Advent devotionals we are looking deeper at some of our favorite carols.
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 65:7
“You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations.”
Today’s Carol: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, Our full homage to demand.
Rand on rank the host of heaven Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light desendeth From the realms of endless day,
That the pow’rs of hell may vanish As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six-winged seraph; Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence, As with ceaseless voice they cry,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Lord Most High.
This was not a carol I sang growing up. However, it has become one of my favorites. The text is from the Liturgy of St. James and dates back to the 5th Century or maybe longer. As such, it is one of the oldest hymn texts in our hymnal. And yet it still has something to say to us in our 21st Century world.
Have you ever noticed how loud Christmas is? The radio stations that never stop playing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”; the luxury car commercials that promise a December to Remember; the rushing to get things decorated, get things bought, get things wrapped; the lights and sights that assault the senses. Usually, but maybe not this year, our calendars fill up with concerts and parties and other gatherings. Christmas around here is anything but quiet.
Yet this carol demands right up front that we shut up.
“Let all mortal flesh keep silence” – that’s you and me. We are the mortal flesh who are just too loud. We are the ones who ponder things that are earthly minded instead of spiritually minded. The text demands that we keep silence and think about what is happening here.
It’s a good reminder to have. We can get so caught up in the “doing” of Christmas that we don’t ponder the amazing thing that we are celebrating: Christ our God to earth descendeth – that the pow’s of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away. To ponder that takes silence. How are we going to be still and silent this Advent?
God forgive us for treating the coming of Jesus with a lack of reverence and respect. Help us to find ways to keep silent in these weeks before Christmas and to ponder the amazing fact of the incarnation – Emmanuel – God with us.
PS – Here is a video of the Duke Chapel. It may make you long for a time when we can gather and sing once more. However, it is a good arrangement. Give it a listen: