A Hymn for Admiring Christmas Lights

Dec 19, 2023

My family recently enjoyed a drive-through Christmas light display in my local county park and I'm so glad we took the time to do this!

This annual display along with enjoying our Christmas tree lights and other festive lights around the house easily help me remember another Light:

The Light of Jesus shone into a dark world the night God came down to dwell with us!

I'm not the first to draw this connection. In fact, many people believe Martin Luther, the Reformer and hymn-writer himself, introduced the tradition of lighting the Christmas tree to the world.

Many written sources record stories of sixteenth-century Christians bringing decorated trees into their homes and legend credits Martin Luther with starting the tradition. Attaching candles to his tree (likely with wax), he taught his children about the Star of Bethlehem and illustrated the beautiful and hope-filled truth of Jesus as Light of the World.

His Christmas hymn, "We Praise, O Christ, Your Holy Name" is a fitting hymn for that.


We Praise, O Christ, Your Holy Name

Stanzas 1-2, 1370 (Latin hymn translated to German)

Stanzas 3-7 by Martin Luther, 1523

We praise, O Christ, Your holy name.
Truly human child You came,
From virgin born; this Word is true.
Your angels are rejoicing, too. Kyrieleis!*

Now in the manger one may see
God's Son from eternity,
The Gift from God's eternal throne
Here clothed in our poor flesh and bone. Kyrieleis!

The virgin mother lulls to sleep
Him who rules the cosmic deep;
This Infant is the Lord of day,
Whom all the turning worlds obey. Kyrieleis!

The Light Eternal, breaking through,
Made the world to gleam anew;
His beams have pierced the core of night,
He makes us children of the Light! Kyrieleis!

The Prince, God's very Son, came here,
Guest among the sons of fear.
His banner leads us out of woe,
And to His royal hall we go. Kyrieleis!

To earth He came so poor to bring
Great compassion as our King
That rich in glory we might stand
With angels in the heav'nly land. Kyrieleis!

Such grace toward us now fills with light
Length and breadth and depth and height!
O endless ages, raise your voice;
O Christendom, rejoice, rejoice! Kyrieleis!


* Kyrieleis comes from the Greek phrase which means "Lord, have mercy."

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