Comfort Comfort O My People (Advent 2-2014)

As we continue to Carol Me, Christmas in our 2014 Advent season, the words of today’s traditional Christmas carol, Comfort Comfort O My People, come straight out of the Bible.  It’s a passage of Scripture that has also been used in Handel’s Messiah for Comfort Ye My People (Isaiah 40:1-10).  These same verses are also used at Easter and speak of preparing the way for the LORD.  But this call to repentance didn’t begin at Lent.  It begins with preparing our hearts now—for with His coming, you see, the Kingdom is now here.

But why comfort?  How does that really relate to Advent?

Without knowledge of our sin and taking it seriously, we have no real need for a Savior.  No sin.  No Savior.  Without realizing our hopeless state of salvation on our own merits, we can delude ourselves into thinking that Christmas is about other things than our pitiful situation.  Apart from God’s action on our behalf in the Incarnation, we’re doomed even though we’re Ho-Ho-Hoing our way through the holidays.  The mere fact that the Savior had to come is evidence that we needed Him and without Him, we’re toast.

So the words of this hymn and of Isaiah 40:1-10 are profoundly comforting.  Speaking Peace.  Comforting those who sit in darkness (of bondage to sin, of exile, of exclusion from God’s favor).  They’d been rebellious, as have we all.  They were mourning their bondage, burdened with sorrow, and tired of fighting the inevitable.

Do you ever feel that way?

So God gives His people comfort and tells us that our sins will be covered.  The warfare will end.  The payment—though double from the Lord’s hand—will be paid by another.  By His Christ.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain:
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

It’s good news of great joy because our situation apart from God’s grace was nothing short of hopeless.  Jesus didn’t come as a baby in a manger because the world needed more boys.  The Virgin Birth set Him apart.  Only He could address our dire straits.

You see, the Good News is that the Savior didn’t begin with the Cross.  He is before all time. He is the Living Word. His Incarnation is the radiance of God’s glory and this news of salvation, of purification for sins…is Good News indeed and great Comfort to God’s people.

As you listen to Comfort Comfort O My People, the 1671 German hymn written by Johannes G. Olearius, theologian, writer of biblical commentary, and composer, let the words of comfort given by Isaiah minister to you.  Translated into English by London native Catherine Winkworth, this carol appeared in The Chorale Book for England (published in 1863).  We can benefit from the great German chorale tradition brought to us today.  As you listen to this modernized version (click link), remember the words of old and this theological truth that is our Thought Focus for Today.

Thought focus for today’s reflection:  We celebrate the Incarnation as it showed we needed a Savior.  God’s lovingkindness to forgive our sins is demonstrated in His Son Jesus who would come not just as a baby in a manger, but as our Savior and God’s Christ.  This is Comfort indeed!

comfort comfortComfort, comfort ye My people,
Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness, Mourning ’neath their sorrow’s load;
Speak ye to Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover,
And her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying
In the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance,
Since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet Him,
And the hills bow down to greet Him.

Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
Blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger
He will no more see nor heed.
She has suffered many a day,
Now her griefs have passed away,
God will change her pining sadness
Into ever springing gladness.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain:
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.


Carol Me, Christmas (2014 Advent Devotional Series) began November 30th.  By way of reminder, if you haven’t signed up yet, you can receive these devotional studies in your email throughout Advent 2014 by entering your email address on the home page in the space provided in the sidebar.  Or “Like” the SeminaryGal Facebook page to access them there.  If you like these devotionals, I’d really appreciate your letting others know so I can continue to spread the Good News far and wide.  Blessings to you, in Christ always, Barbara <><

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 1, 2014

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