For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.
From the time the Lord first called Abraham, rescued Isaac, and blessed Jacob, the children of Israel have been regarded as God’s chosen people, to whom God gave His great and precious promises. And now, after a long history of waiting and longing, those promises were coming to pass, for God is faithful to His Word. God keeps His promises.
And yet, it now appears that the promises which God made to Israel involve more than just those chosen people, for if you sing The First Noel, beyond the 1st stanza, you’ll note that this hymn speaks not only of the shepherds, who were no doubt Israelites, but also about the wise men, who were not, but from the East, foreigners we might say. But now, they too are included in the fulfillment of God’s promises: “the king of Israel” is their king as well! … and ours! And with Him, in His kingdom, there is joy & rejoicing. We thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for promises made and kept for us that we may evermore rejoice.
And how even greater is the fulfillment of God’s promises to us: that Christ was born, yes; he lived, yes; and died, y-e-s…; and rose again, YES! for us and for all people that we may have life abundantly in His name. Oh, glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. To which all God’s people say: “Amen!”
The first Noel the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay: in fields where 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.
A note about the song.
The First Noel" is a traditional classical English Christmas carol. The word Noel comes from the French word Noël meaning Christmas and from the Latin word natalis which translates as birthday". In its current form, it’s of Cornish origin, first published in Carols Ancient & Modern (1823). What follows is the carol “Noel” according to Cornish tradition:
1. O well, O well, the Angels did say to shepherds there in the fields did lay;
Late in the night a-folding their sheep, a winter's night, both cold and bleak.
Refrain : O well, O well, O well, O well, born is the King of Israel.
2. And then there did appear a Star, whose glory then did shine so far:
Unto the earth it gave a great light, and there it continued a day and a night.
3. And by the light of that same Star, three Wise Men came from country far;
To seek a King was their intent - they follow'd the Star wherever it went.
4. The Star went before them unto the North West, and seemed o'er the city of Bethlehem to rest, and there did remain by night and by day, right over the place where Jesus Christ lay.
5. Then enter'd in these Wise Men three, with reverence fall on their knee, and offer'd up in His presence the gifts of gold and frankincense.
6. 'Tween an ox manger and an ass, our blest Messiah's place it was; To save us all from bond & thrall, He was a Redeemer for us all!