A Devotion for 5 January 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide (a hymn recommended by Ms. Marianne Lane of California)
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16 ¶ Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Matthew 2:7, 16-18
Here is a fitting hymn for the Epiphany. Among other things, it points out the innocence of the children who were madly massacred by Herod’s army. I will apply the points in this hymn to the Holy Innocents. But points of reference are important in establishing perceptions. In the perceptions of the world, a child remains so until achieving the age of carnal knowledge; however, in the eyes of God our Father, the childhood of His elect is never-ending. Regardless of our advanced age, we are still too green in life (compared with God’s eternity) to be considered old. We are all children of God.
The slaughtered male children of Bethlehem of two years age and under – based on the calculation of the maximum presumed age of Christ based on when the Star appeared to the Wise Men. (vs 7 above). The hymn was composed by John Cennick in 1742. There are two different tunes presented in the 1940 Hymnal – that of Johann Christian Kittell, BRASTED, (1790); and the other, PLEYEL’S or GERMAN HYMN, by Ignaz Pleyel (1782). I strongly prefer the latter tune.
CHILDREN OF THE HEAVENLY KING
1.Children of the heavenly King,
As we journey, sweetly sing;
Sing your Saviour’s worthy praise,
Glorious in his works and ways
2.We are traveling home to God,
In the way the Fathers trod;
They are happy now, and we
Soon their happiness shall see.
3.Lift your eyes, ye sons of light,
Zion’s city is in sight;
There our endless home shall be,
There our Lord we soon shall see.
4.Lord, obediently we go,
Gladly leaving all below;
Only thou our Leader be,
And we still will follow thee. Amen.
1.Children of the heavenly King, As we journey, sweetly sing; Sing your Saviour’s worthy praise,
Glorious in his works and ways. The infants of Bethlehem, in a sense, were honored and blessed by this event though horrific to the mothers. They died that Christ might live to become their Redeemer through His own vicarious and atoning death and resurrection. The whole of their lives was spent in innocent infancy. They did not walk the cruel road of life very long before going home to the Father.
2.We are traveling home to God, In the way the Fathers trod; They are happy now, and we Soon their happiness shall see. God is the eternal home of every member of His family – and there are only two families on earth, the elect and the lost. There can be no greater ecstasy than to be with our Lord. It is perhaps so, as Wordsworth points out, that our memories are not fully devoid of our recent coming from the Gates of Splendor while yet in our infancy. These infants gave up their spirits to be returned to the Giver of Life – Our Lord Jesus Christ. There comes a day in all of our futures when, at the discretion of our Lord, the curtain of our lives shall descend. We shall awaken as if after the twinkling of the eye, and find ourselves bathed in the brilliant light of His presence; and gathered all around will be those who have preceded us (including the infants of Bethlehem).
3.Lift your eyes, ye sons of light, Zion’s city is in sight; There our endless home shall be, There our Lord we soon shall see. You will recall that the Wise Men (Magi) ceased to follow the Star when they crossed the Jordan Waters and drew near to Jerusalem. They ceased to follow the Heavenly Light and took up following the ‘will o’ the Wisp’ lights of mortal man. They reasoned that the coming King of Kings should be born in the capital city and in the palace of the king, so they sought the child out at the palace of Herod. Not having their inquiries satisfied, they departed the city. As soon as they got beyond the gates of the city, they again saw the Star and followed it to the unlikely (to them) place of nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ at sleepy Bethlehem. Christ is our Sun of Righteousness – our Day Star – and wherever He is, there is resplendent light. The proper abode for the Sons and Daughters of Light should be the City of Light where New Jerusalem is kept in earnest for the reward of the elect.
4.Lord, obediently we go, Gladly leaving all below; Only thou our Leader be, And we still will follow thee. Amen. Our Lord Jesus Christ was obedient in all things to the Father – even the death of the cross. He has commanded us, as well, to follow Him, to take up our crosses daily in that service. He suffered for His redeemed on the cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb, He arose from that tomb on the third day and ascended to the Father as He was received by a cloud. Obediently, we too go gladly leaving all below following that brilliant Light of Christ. His steps may lead to suffering and deprivation. They may lead to a martyr’s death even. But we continue the march despite the false signals and bugle calls of the enemy and follow that Light of Christ on the Way, the Truth, and the Life of His Gospel. His steps will always lead through the wilderness to the great Gates of Heaven.