As we prepare for Christmas this coming Sunday, I figured it would be fitting to share one of my favorite Advent songs. The tune itself is quite haunting, though in a truly beautiful way. It just kind of sticks with you, and the lyrics are quite beautiful as well!
Song: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Ponder nothing earthly minded, For with blessing is His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, Our full homage to demand.
King of Kings, Yet born of Mary, As of old earth He stood,
Lord of Lords, In human vesture, In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful, His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads it’s vanguard on the way,
As Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six-winged seraph, Cherubim, With sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to His presence as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Lord Most High!
Silence. It, all too often, becomes a nice concept that we never really live out. I’m finding, however, especially in these final days of Advent, that silence is a beautiful opportunity to ponder the coming of Christ. Ponder nothing earthly minded, rather, we are instead to ponder the blessings of His hands, the gift that Christ becomes not only at His birth, but on the Cross.
The way the lyrics are written are sometimes challenging when you simply read them. They are written in that poetic way that I so often hating analyzing in high school. Now, however, their difficulty makes them that much more intruiging. The way the lyrics are written aren’t really at all how we talk, which I think points that much more to their importance. Perhaps the most important line is the last line of the first verse, “He will give to all the faithful, His own self for heavenly food.” He comes to give. He comes as the Eternal Gift – a gift that truly keeps giving throughout the generations.
In ancient times when people wanted something of important to be conveyed they would repeat a single word. When something was of the utmost important, the word was repeated three times, as in the end of this song, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Lord Most High!” The word Alleluia is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” which is a melding together of the words “Hallel,” which means “to praise” and “YHWH,” the Hebrew name for God, reserved for the holiest situations. In fact, “YHWH” was never said outloud. The Greek “Alleluia” and the Hebrew “Hallelujah” mean the same thing – praise God, an action we are all called to renew as we prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of Christ at Christmas.