Christmas Songs #5: The first noel

The First Noel is a great song. Maybe not so good as poetry, but this is one of the really old Christmas texts, more of a folk song than a composed song. No one knows who wrote it, but it comes from either England or France, where “noel” means Christmas.

It has some strange things in its story. In this song, both the shepherds AND the wise men see the star. In the Bible, the shepherds see the angels, but the wise men follow a star (probably months later). This suggests that the words may date back to a time when the Bible was not available in the language of the people, so instead of reading the stories, they relied on what they heard at church, and maybe got a little mixed up at times about what they heard. (I don’t know anybody today like that!)

I love the last verse, which points out that Jesus Christ is also the Creator God. He
“made Heaven and Earth of nought”
but now that he is a man, he
“with his blood mankind has bought.”
This refers to our Lord going to the Cross and dying for sinners. If there is anything that is taken out of the modern American Christmas, it is any recognition that Christ the Lord was born to die. The angel told Joseph, “You shall call his name JESUS, because he will save his people from their SINS.”

http://www.rhapsody.com/goto?rcid=tra.17048623&artistId=art.9203268&variant=play

(To hear the song, click the link or paste into your browser. Finally, where it says “Don’t have a Rhapsody account?”, push “Play Now.”)

Lyrics (www.carols.org.uk)

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.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

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.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then 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 has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!




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