One Weird Lyric
The persons who frequent this site will know that I am not afraid to give an opinion; in fact, there have been several instances where I should have thought a bit more before I typed. In any event I just want to say from the beginning I don’t think this is “bad” or the “worst,” it’s just alien really.
So it’s that time of year when many worship pastors start to incorporate Christmas carols into their sets (an issue deserving a post) and pastors start to preach tired sermon series on Christmas that we have heard for the last twenty-five years (also deserving a post in itself, but briefly: seriously mix it up a bit, we’re bored).
This past Sunday at my church we sang “O Come All Ye Faithful,” one of the few carols I don’t despise, however, a line from the song (that I do not ever remember hearing before) distracted me, and used up the few mental capacities that I have available during some worship concerts as I am led into a catatonic state drooling on myself while mumbling the words to I Could Sing of Your Love Forever for the millionth time.
The line? “Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb.” Now the line is odd enough on its own, but what’s even odder is its placement in the verse in which it is found:
God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created.
The first and third lines above are from the Nicene Creed which is a really good place to plagiarize lyrics from if you want to stay on target theologically, but the second line? I’m not quite sure where that comes from, and I just can’t help creating a conversation in my mind between the author of this song and some other imaginary person during the writing process:
Critic: Hmmm… yeah I like it.
Author: Great, thanks
Critic: I like how you used the Creed here in the second verse but there’s something missing…
Author: Do you think I should add something about being begotten of the father, being the same substance as the father, or by whom all things were made?
Critic: no, that’s not it…
Author: Prince of Peace?
Critic: No.. how about something with his birth
Author: Immaculate Conception?
Critic: No, to positive
Author: How about, “He does not abhor the Virgin’s womb”?
Critic: Yeah, that might work. Throw a “Lo” in front of that line and it’s perfect
Author: “Lo! he does not abhor the Virgin’s womb.” I like it. It says I didn’t really want to be in a person for ten months ’cause I’m like God and everything, but I didn’t hate it either. Yeah, the more I think about it the more I like it. Thanks man.
A very strange periphrastic phrase articulated in a manner in which no one speaks anymore… and that may be a good thing! Can you imagine talking to a non-Christian: They say “Tell me about Jesus” and you reply, “Lo. He does not abhor the virgin’s womb.”