Monday, 25 December 2017

Let Earth and Heaven Combine

I blogged on this back in 2011, but it remains one of my favourite Christmas hymns. We used to sing it regularly in my first home church, but I haven’t sung in years. It’s by Charles Wesley. Verse 2 sounds a tad docetic (!), but the whole tenor of the hymn speaks of the mystery of what God was doing in becoming flesh, captured wonderfully in those lines in the first verse – ‘Our God contracted to a span/Incomprehensibly made man’. That always made me smile as each member of the congregation would invariably fit the words to the music in slightly different ways! Still, it’s a great line.

Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face
The depths of deity,
And labour while ye gaze
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Savior brought;
The grace is far above
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

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