In Luther’s day, the new year began with Christmas Day. In a way, that is very fitting since the incarnation of Christ means the beginning of the new creation which is granted to all who believe in Jesus as the Christ.

As many are aware, Luther wrote hymns, not only because he was musically adept but chiefly because he wanted people to learn and live the faith, and song is a good medium so to do. From ancient times, meter and rhyme have provided a cadence for remembrance. In a day and an age when many could not read or write, learning through verse was effective, and still is today. Think of how easily an advertising jingle or the refrain of a pop song takes residence in our memories.

Through the advent of the printing press and with the widespread ease and abundance of reference materials, multiplied exponentially today with the internet, modern people seem to have been significantly relieved of having to learn through memory. Some would question whether people today really learn much at all but rather parrot what they see on their smart phones. (Do smart phones make dumb people?)

One of Luther’s great Christmas songs is entitled Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, which I would translate as From Heaven above I Come Here. Other translations of the same include From Heaven Above to Earth I Come (Lutheran Service Book, 358) and From Heaven on High I Come to You as translated and printed in Luther’s Works. The full translation of the latter is below.

From Heaven on High I Come to You

1 From Heaven on high I come to you.
I bring a story good and new;
Of goodly news so much I bring,
Of it I must both speak and sing.

2 To you a child is come this morn,
A child of holy maiden born,
A little babe so sweet and mild—
Your joy and bliss shall be that child.

3 It is the Lord Christ, our own God.
He will ease you of all your load;
He will himself your Savior be,
And from all sinning set you free.

4 He brings you all the news so glad
Which God the Father ready had—
That you shall in his heavenly house
Live now and evermore with us.

5 Take heed then to the token sure,
The crib, the swaddling clothes so poor;
The infant you shall find laid there,
Who all the world doth hold and bear.

6 Hence let us all be gladsome then,
And with the shepherd folk go in
To see what God to us hath given,
With his dear honored Son from heaven.

7 Take note, my heart; see there! look low:
What lies then in the manger so?
Whose is the lovely little child?
It is the darling Jesus-child.

8 Welcome thou art, thou noble guest,
With sinners who dost lie and rest,
And com’st into my misery!
How thankful I must ever be!

9 Ah Lord! the maker of us all!
How hast thou grown so poor and small,
That there thou liest on withered grass,
The supper of the ox and ass?

10 Were the world wider many fold,
And decked with gems and cloth of gold,
’Twere far too mean and narrow all,
To make for thee a cradle small.

11 The silk and velvet that are thine,
Are rough hay, linen not too fine,
Yet, as they were thy kingdom great,
Thou liest in them in royal state.

12 And this hath therefore pleased thee
That thou this truth mightst make me see—
How all earth’s power, show, good, combined,
Helps none, nor comforts thy meek mind.

13 Dear little Jesus! in my shed,
Make thee a soft, white little bed,
And rest thee in my heart’s low shrine,
That so my heart be always thine.

14 And so I ever gladsome be,
Ready to dance and sing to thee
The lullaby thou lovest best,
With heart exulting in its guest.

15 Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who his own Son to us hath given!
For this the angel troop sings in
Such a new year with gladsome din.
(Luther’s Works, 53:290-291)

So, if you were to write a song to tell others about Jesus’ birth, life, death, or resurrection, how might it go? The Parish Rebuilder will publish in forthcoming editions song submissions of 5-15 verses edifying others about Jesus. So, open your Bibles, put on your thinking caps, find your creative crayons or keyboard, and send submit a song or two. Perhaps we could put some of them to music and sing them in church!