Advent Reflection: O Come, All Ye Faithful


O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant; O come ye; O come ye to Bethlehem! Come, and behold him, born the King of angels!

This is another of my favorite Christmas songs. I love the image of the expectant faithful gathering – and being gathered – in joy to witness the incarnation. This song is filled with some pretty significant theological statements (“very God, begotten, not created”). I don’t really understand “born the King of angels” but I love that we join “all ye citizens of heaven above” in our song of praise. However, it’s not the verses of this song that mean the most to me. It’s the refrain.

O come, let us adore him;

O come, let us adore him;

O come, let us adore him, Christ, the Lord!

Several years ago, I was struggling with “adoring” Jesus. I believed in Jesus. I loved Jesus. I worshipped Jesus with my congregation on Sunday mornings. But my heart didn’t adore Jesus. Even as I write this, I’m not totally sure of what that means.

For a period of time, I used the refrain of this Christmas hymn to bring my heart and mind together. I used it as a breath prayer when I woke up during the night. I used it as a greeting when I got up in the morning. When I felt uncertainty, lack of trust, impatience, or frustration, I would sing it over and over again in my head as I tried to redirect my thoughts away from myself and towards God.

Did I gain an adoring heart? Maybe.

What I definitely found, though, was that worship belongs in my whole life and not just a season or certain place or time of the week. Singing this refrain caused me to ask myself, “What is it that I adore about Christ?” And depending on my circumstances, I discovered different truths about the character of God.

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is a Christmas song but I think it can also be an Advent song. It is a call of preparation as we draw near to our celebration of the miracle of the incarnation. It is a reminder that our response is to be worship. It is a statement that Jesus is Lord. Actually, I guess it’s appropriate for Ordinary Time as well, and I still find myself coming back to this refrain from time to time throughout the year.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. With the saints here on earth and the saints and angels in heaven, we will join our voices in singing praise to God over the wonder and beauty of the incarnation. May our hearts join our voices as we come and adore him together.

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