Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 18

Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur.
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you.
See the fur to keep you warm,
Snugly 'round your tiny form.

Mary's little baby, sleep, sweetly sleep,
Sleep in comfort, slumber deep.
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you.
We will serve you all we can,
Darling, darling little man.

Traditional Czech, translated by Percy Dearmer 1867-1936

This carol is a translation of a traditional Czech carol by Percy Dearmer. It has the form of a lullaby. There was a medieval tradition in parts of Northern Europe (particularly Germany) to set up a cradle in Church, with the figure of the baby Jesus in it, which the priests and people would rock as they sang lullabies to the child Jesus. Rather like our Crib services, this enabled people imaginatively to enter into the story of the birth of Christ. This carol may have its origins in this practice.

The carol evokes the scene of the birth of Christ as if the singers were there, able to be involved in the action. It imagines that the onlookers could give a fur blanket to wrap around the baby to protect him from the cold, if not from all the other dangers he faces. Some people find it sentimental, but it taps into the natural protective instincts we have towards babies, and it emphasizes the vulnerability of this child, born in an animal shelter, with not even a warm cot to lie in. That vulnerability will be evident later when he dies on the cross. This is not some superman, who feels no pain or fear.

·         Christmas is a season filled with traditions which help us imagine the scene of the birth of Christ. What traditions do you observe or value at Christmas at home or at church? Do you have crib set, or favourite tree decorations which depict the story? If not, could you make or buy some this year?
·         Spend some time imagining the scene this carol depicts. If you were there and could say something to Mary and Joseph or do something for them, what would it be?

Bible Reading: Then Simeon blessed Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ Luke 2.34-35

1 comment:

  1. Molehil4:09 pm

    This carol brings back happy memories of school nativity plays when it was always sung as an accompaniment to the final tableaux scene. Although I must have sung it many many times it is only today, having read the accompanying notes, that I have really thought about the words. I have 2 nativity sets - one knitted for me by a dear friend using the pattern on the church website and one which we have had since my daughter was born. Both are missing the kings who are on their journey at present. Thanks Anne for this series - I look forward each morning to your choice of carol .