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Simeon’s Moment by Ron DiCianni

“And behold there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him . . . And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus . . . he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Now Lord, Thou does let Thy bondservant depart in peace according to Thy word. For my eyes have seen Thy salvation.'” (Luke 2:25, 27-30)

Behind every carol there is a story. But as I thought on this particular Christmas song I couldn’t help but think about Simeon and this text from Luke 2. Can you imagine the joy in this old man’s heart when he was able to take “into his arms” the One he had looked for, the promised One, the Messiah. How his heart must of leaped within him as he said, “For my eyes have seen Thy salvation.” And so I thought of the words of this ancient hymn . . . Good Christian Men, Rejoice!

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

This hymn goes back many centuries, the words having been written by a Dominican monk by the name of Heinrich Suso. Suso lived in a time when darkness and poverty and hopelessness were the facts of every day life. He was born into a family that would have made him part of the ruling class. But with a great concern for the common man and his sufferings, he chose the priesthood. He attempted in his ministry to lift the spirits of the people, the people who he knew had very little to rejoice about. This was not the normal ministry of the church in that time so Suso suffered persecution for his service of worship. But this did not derail this determined man, and he continued until his death to reach the common man with his song and its message.

Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss;
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He hath oped the heavenly door,
And man is blessed evermore.
Christ was born for this,
Christ was born for this!
As Simeon rejoiced so did Heinrich Suso. And so have many listeners and singers of this traditional hymn down through the ages. What a wonderful message to ponder in the midst of a fallen world . . . this message of Christmas,
    Good Christian men, rejoice,
    With heart and soul and voice;
    Now ye need not fear the grave;
    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!

Ah yes! “Good Christian men, rejoice!” For “ye need not fear the grave.” Why? Because “Jesus Christ was born to save!” Can you imagine the joy and hope this message brought to those people in Suso’s day? Consider their state and then consider how they were ministered to by the words of this great hymn. 

And likewise, we are also ministered to . . . and we “rejoice.” For we not only have this hymn but we also have the Word of God and the ability to read it, and it tells us, “Christ was born to save . . . Christ was born to save!”

Have a good day.  And, as you walk in this Christmas season, may the message of this great old hymn cause your heart to leap with joy!


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