Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/The First Noel

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” ~ Matthew 2:2

In Bethlehem, the summers are long, warm, arid, and clear and the winters are cold and mostly clear. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 41°F to 86°F and is rarely below 35°F or above 92°F.”

I’ve been very cold at night while camping. Sleeping is not sound when your feet are freezing and your breath is frosty. Remembering cold nights makes me wonder if the Shepherds had their robes pulled over their heads to keep in the warmth. Would the light of the angels and star penetrate the fabric and create a glow inside?

You see, I like to imagine myself a participant there on that hillside. I have more in common with shepherds than I do wise men. Surely, one of the shepherds was awake and on watch. Did he or she alert the others with a cry of alarm, or did the shepherd’s voice fail him? Had the star been steadily brightening in the sky, or did it suddenly appear, near bright as the sun? Christmas Carols lead my imagination into familiar and loved scenes. For me, the songs and tunes are treasures of the season and make this one of the best times of the year.

Hugo van der Goes (c.1420-1440-1482)

THE FIRST NOEL BY Davies Gilbert 1823

The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O’er Bethlehem it took it rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel – “A term signifying the holiday season, Noël comes to us from the Latin verb nasci, meaning “to be born.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, the birth of Jesus is called natalis. A variation of this word, nael, made its way into Old French as a reference to the Christmas season and later into Middle English as nowel.”

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