Good Christian Men Rejoice!

Sunday night at church, one of the requested favorites was Good Christian Men Rejoice.  The words to this Christmas carol are accredited to Henry Suso who lived in the 14th century.  As we sang the hymn, I couldn’t help thinking about the immutability of our God!  Immutability refers to God’s unchangeable quality – something definitely worth our rejoicing!

Think of it: in the 1300’s, seven hundred hears ago, a German monk wrote these words:

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

That was before Columbus discovered America!  It was before King James ordered the writing of the Bible translation which bears his name.  No one knew what a ‘germ’ was, and Shakespeare wouldn’t come on the scene for another two hundred years! In the 14th century, there was only one church: the Holy Roman Catholic Church and it was having its problems: the moral level was at an all-time low and the church had two popes – one in Rome and one in France.  In fact, Pope Clement VI is quoted as saying:

“What can you preach to the people? If on humility, you yourselves are the proudest of the world, puffed up, pompous and sumptuous in luxuries. If on poverty, you are so covetous that all the benefices of the world are not enough for you. If on chastity – but we will be silent on this, for God knows what each man does and how many of you satisfy your lusts.”                                  (http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/westtech/x14thc.htm)

During the 14th century, the world was in an upheaval in every way.  France and England we in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War; the Black Death or bubonic plague was sweeping the area and left one-third or an estimated 20 million people dead; and a mini Ice Age when the Baltic Sea completely froze over.

In the midst of all this, Henry Suso wrote a poem and the words were later translated into our present English version Good Christian Men Rejoice! … Christ was born for this!  We have so much to rejoice about.  Although we may look upon the times in which we are living and see corruption and confusion at every turn, REJOICE – Christ is born!

As we enter into the holiday season, may we not forget these words.  May we rejoice when tempted to complain about the long lines or high prices.  May we rejoice when snagged in traffic and time is at a premium.  May we see how minuscule our problems really are compared to a lost and dying world!

Rejoice – Christ is born and He makes all the difference!

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