“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” ( Luke 1:30-33)
We have all received a Christmas card at one time or another greeting us with “Noel.” It is a French word and has come to mean either “Christmas” or “carol.” In this particular carol, it is used as a shout of joy at the birth of Jesus. It probably is derived from the Latin word “natalis” meaning “birth.” When the word found its way to England, it was spelled “nowell” and came to mean “Now all is well,” because that is what the angels told the shepherds, when Christ was born.
The song is probably the oldest popular carol in the English language, handed down by custom over the centuries. Finally, it was harmonized and printed in 1833 in William Sandy’s “Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern.” The music is assumed to be from a French or English medieval shepherd’s tune.
THE FIRST NOEL
The first noel the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, noel, noel, noel.
Born is the King of Israel.
They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East, beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued, both day and night. Chorus
And by the light of that same Star
Three Wise Men came from country far,
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the Star wherever it went. Chorus
This Star drew nigh to the North West;
O’er Bethlehem it took it’s rest.
And there it did both stop and stay,
High over the place where Jesus lay. Chorus
Then did they know assuredly
Within that house, the King did lie
One entered in then for to see
And found the babe in poverty. Chorus
Then entered in those Wise Men three,
Full reverently upon bended knee,
And offered there, in his presence,
Their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense. Chorus
Now let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought. Chorus
Born is the King of Israel! Hallelujah! The last verse sums up the entire carol . . . “Now let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord – the Lord that made heaven and earth from nothing and with His blood bought the redemption of all of mankind!” (paraphrased)
The traditional Christmas carols seem to speak volumes, telling the story of Jesus, and writing it upon the hearts of men, women and children everywhere as they sing them over and over and over again. Even the unbelieving in this world find themselves singing these words which were ultimately written to bring praise and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why not spend a few moments in the quietness of your own heart (if you can contain it) and think of the Reason for this season and every season … can there be found any greater reason to sing and rejoice and give glory to the Father?
Rejoice! “Born is the King of Israel”!
From the depths of your heart, rejoice!
Father, as I consider the words of this and the many other Christmas carols, I find myself so overwhelmed with joy and even a sense of Godly pride – I know this Christ-child whose birth is lauded and has been praised and exalted throughout the centuries. Lord, thank You for the knowledge of grace, for the experience of mercy, for the cleansing of the blood, for the washing of the water of the Word, for the ability to draw nigh to You throughout the year. Lord, thank You for the gift of Life that lives within me. Help me to share the Gift with all. Oh yes, I am rejoicing … the King of Israel – my King – the King of kings and the Lord of lords lives within my heart! Amen and Amen!
© Jan Ross
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