THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS
(see “Background” and “Resources” below for music)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” [Isaiah 7:14] which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife. . . (Matthew 1:18-25)
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, every one to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:1-20)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet [Micah 5:2]:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country. (Matthew 2:1-12)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Christmas commemortes the birth of Jesus, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
We know “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – but many Christmas songs are about the birth of Jesus Christ. How many do you know?
- Angels, From the Realms of Glory
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Away in a Manger
- Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”)
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Good Christian Men
- “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” (see below)
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- I Saw Three Ships
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- Joy To The World (see below)
- O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- O Holy Night (see below)
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Silent Night
- The First Noel
- We Three Kings of Orient Are
- What Child is This
- While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks
Handle’s Messiah is an oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible. It is performed throughout the world every year during the Christmas season.
- Jennens’s text describes the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah – who is the savior of the world. He redeems (saves) people from their sins.
- The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation (the angels announcement) to the shepherds.
- In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus.
- In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.
“Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” (2010 “flash mob”):
“For unto us a Child is Born” from Handel’s “Messiah” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra:
Joy to the World (2010 “flash mob”):
Joy To The World
O Holy Night – Josh Groban
In Korea, a performance at Myongji Hospital (2013 Christmas “Flash Mob”):
(What will we do for others this Christmas?)
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