I am particularly drawn this morning to verses 3-5 of Philips Brooks' now immortal Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem." I don't know that I've ever sung the fourth verse. I suppose it is cut for the sake of brevity, just as most of the verses of "Amazing Grace." But these verses together form a profound reflection on the Incarnation. More than that, the offer an penetrating personal invitation to every one of us. What a wonder!
How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!