It is remarkably easy for this Christian to forget that Christmas is not primarily about sweet and sentimental traditions, but about the very grace of God breaking through to sinners through Jesus Christ. One of the best ways I have found to keep the Gospel central in my heart during the Christian seasons of Advent and Christmas is to spend time singing and meditating on some of our best Christmas Carols. Here is a lesser-known, but wonderful Christmas Carol by Martin Luther, which characteristically applies the birth of Christ as Gospel to sinners.
“From Heaven Above” by Martin Luther, 1543
To shepherds as they watched by night
appeared a host of angels bright;
Behold the tender Babe, they said,
In yonder lowly manger laid,
At Bethlehem, in David’s town,
As Micah did of old make known;
‘Tis Jesus Christ, your Lord and King,
Who doth to all salvation bring.
Oh then rejoice that through His Son,
God is with sinners now at one;
Made like yourselves of flesh and blood,
Your Brother is th’ eternal God.
What harm can sin and death then do?
The true God now abides with you.
Let hell and Satan rage and chafe,
Christ is your Brother – ye are safe.
Not one He will or can forsake
Who Him his confidence doth make.
Let all his wiles the Tempter try,
You may his utmost powers defy.
Ye shall and must at last prevail;
God’s own ye are, and cannot fail.
To God forever sing your praise
With joy and patience all your days.
Hymn No. 103 in The Lutheran Hymnal, cited in What Luther Says, Compiled by Ewald M. Plass (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1959), 157.