Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 29: Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry (1942-1996)
CCLI Song # 2627452
Scripture References: Luke 1:67-79
Theme: Prophet of Promise
Blessed be the God of Israel by Michael Perry
Blessed be the God of Israel who comes to set us free
Who visits and redeems us and grants us liberty
The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom, and release
God shall fulfill the promise to bring our people peace
Now from the house of David a child of grace is given
A Savior comes among us to raise us up to heaven
Before Him goes His herald, forerunner in the way
The prophet of salvation, the harbinger of Day
On prisoners of darkness, the sun begins to rise
The dawning of forgiveness upon the sinner’s eyes
To guide the feet of pilgrims along the paths of peace
Oh bless our God and Savior with songs that never cease
Fill us Holy Spirit,
as you have your faithful through the ages
Fill us with vision to see the goodness and glory to come
Fill us with truth to speak and the courage to do so
Fill us with resolve to follow the emancipated way of our Jesus:
and to help others do the same. Amen.
This hymn text is a metrical paraphrase of the “Benedictus” or the “Song of Zechariah” from Luke 1:68-79.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Excerpt from History of Hymns: “Blessed Be the God of Israel” by Andrew Butler
Zechariah had been made dumb during his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. When he hears of his son’s birth, his tongue is loosed for his song of praise to the Lord God of Israel….
A variety of terms refer to John the Baptist in stanza two including “herald,” “forerunner,” “prophet of salvation” and “harbinger.” Perry condenses the metaphor in the canticle referring to Christ as the “day-spring from on high” and John as the messenger as the “harbinger of Day.”
The last line of the hymn—“with songs that never cease!”—would seem to be a hyperbole at first glance, but the text is a literal understanding of eschatology. Our songs will never cease in heaven.
CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.
The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.
This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.
Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:
- Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
- Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
- Ask yourself:
- What is the big idea?
- Why is it important?
- How does this truth connect with my life?
- Have a conversation with God about this truth.
- Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.
- Journal your reflections
- Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
- Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
- Sing or listen to the song
- Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face
I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><
Blessed be the God of Israel reflection © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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