Merry Christmas! For the Mere Fidelity Christmas show this year, Matt, Derek, and Alastair examine the theology embedded in three perennially favorite Christmas hymns. Scroll down on this post to read the rich lyrics while you listen.

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For the month of December, our listeners will get a 25% discount on their purchase of Christ Our Salvation: Expositions & Proclamations, by John Webster, edited by Daniel Bush. Christ Our Salvation is an edifying and spiritually enriching collection of sermons by the renowned John Webster.

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Timestamps & Lyrics:

December Promos [1:54]

“Once in Royal David’s City” [2:31]

Peformed by The Choir of New College, Oxford

From the album Traditional and Modern Carols

1. Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

2. He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

3. And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

4. For he is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

5. And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

6. Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” [16:27]

Peformed by Fernando Ortego

From the album Come Down O Love Divine

1 Of the Father’s love begotten

ere the worlds began to be,

he is Alpha and Omega,

he the Source, the Ending he,

of the things that are, that have been,

and that future years shall see,

evermore and evermore!


2 O that birth forever blessed,

when the Virgin, full of grace,

by the Holy Ghost conceiving,

bore the Savior of our race;

and the babe, the world’s Redeemer,

first revealed his sacred face,

evermore and evermore!


3 This is he whom heav’n-taught singers

sang of old with one accord,

whom the Scriptures of the prophets

promised in their faithful word;

now he shines, the long expected;

let creation praise its Lord, 

evermore and evermore!


4 O ye heights of heav’n, adore him;

angel hosts, his praises sing:

all dominions, bow before him

and extol our God and King;

let no tongue on earth be silent,

ev’ry voice in concert ring, 

evermore and evermore!


5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father,

and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,

hymn and chant and high thanksgiving

and unwearied praises be,

honor, glory, and dominion

and eternal victory,

evermore and evermore!

 “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” [28:10]

Performed by The Choir of Merton College, Oxford

From the album O Holy Night: A Merton Christmas

Hark! The herald-angels sing

“Glory to the newborn king;

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled”

Joyful all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies

With the angelic host proclaim

“Christ is born in Bethlehem”

Hark! The herald-angels sing

“Glory to the new-born king”


Christ, by highest heaven adored

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of a Virgin’s womb:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with man to dwell

Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald-angels sing

“Glory to the newborn King”


Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness![10]

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings;

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing

“Glory to the new-born king”

 Lower Still” by My Epic [40:42]

December Promotions and End Of Year Plans [47:47]


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Follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Crouch for keeping us organized. Thanks to Tim Motte for his sound editing. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. I heard Of the Father’s Love Begotten recently in a lessons and carols done by … Trinity College? I’m not sure which one. It was very wonderful, though.


  2. Also, I’m sorry there was no discussion of Hark! the herald-angels sing versus its original version. The opening line as Wesley wrote it was, “Hark how all the welkin rings.” As I understand it the original version doesn’t have the refrain that’s so familiar to us. Without those references to angels, the hymn has almost nothing to do with the angels, except for the indirect reference in the first verse.

    I’ll also just add that I think Once in royal David’s city echoes Philippians 2 more strongly than Hark! the herald-angels sing. (In fact I happened to sing it earlier today, and I thought, “Oh, it’s like Philippians 2.) Hark! the herald-angels sing seems to me to have a stronger marvelous exchange kind of a theme, God being born of a woman so that we might be born of God. Less death and resurrection, more Galatians 4 or John 1 (to them gave he power to become the sons of God).


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