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Quempas Carol, part 1: Who is this King of glory?

 
 
updated: 12/6/2017 11:21 AM

The Quempas Carol dates back to the Middle Ages, evidently arising in Bohemia.

This carol has the strong feeling of a great deal of activity, portraying all of the coming and going that attended our Lord's birth.

The first verse is as follows: "He whom shepherds once came praising, Awed by heav'nly light ablazing, Cheered by angel news amazing: 'King of glory, Christ is born!'"

In this first stanza, the angels confront the humble shepherds, giving them a message, an announcement of good news, the "King of glory, Christ is born!" Who is this King of glory? He is the Lord mighty in battle, says King David in Psalm 24. David wrote Psalm 24 as the hymn to be sung when the ark of the covenant was moved to Jerusalem after being returned by the Philistines. The psalm was sung on Sabbath days thereafter.

Who is this King of glory? He is a God who will not be trifled with, who can be approached only on His own terms. Who is this King of glory? A God who is omnipresent, yet one who ties Himself to specific things in this world.

We may plan to skip church for the sake of family events -- arguing, with the best intentions, of course, that God is everywhere. We can even argue that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. King David said so. And we think we don't need the specific times and places of ordered worship. It seems pious to give God his omnipresent due. He's everywhere.

But our problem is not that we believe that He is everywhere, for we seldom act like it. When do we act like we think He is everywhere? We really act like He's nowhere, nowhere at all.

No wonder that the pious shepherds of old, when confronted with the angel host ablazing, were filled with awe and fear and trembled inwardly. God was everywhere, but now He was really present. He was right there, lying in a manager, born of Mary, virgin mother.

Who is this Lord of glory? He is willing to be placed on our altars, to be present through the word under bread and wine. We find His precious body and blood not everywhere; we find it here where He gives it. Just as the shepherds followed the word to the manger and there beheld the Lord of glory, so, too, when we follow the word to where the Lord may be found, we see the Lord of glory in the manger of our altar and communionware.

The Quempas Carol suits the amazing character of the incarnation of our Lord. The impossible gets said of our Lord of glory. He is born. He is born for us. So the angels told the shepherds, and so shepherds believe, and so do we.

• DAVID OTTEN is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.