Kenneth W. Osbeck
Although no Christmas season would be complete without the melodious singing
of this tuneful carol, very little is known about its origin. It is believed to
have had its rise in France during the fifteenth century. Noel is a French word
originating from Latin meaning "birthday." The song is thought to have been brought
across the channel to England before 1823 by the wandering troubadours. The carol
under the English form, "Nowell," became a great favorite for Christmas Eve, especially
in the west of England. This was when the entire village gathered for singing
and celebrating the bringing in of the Yule log. At this time carols were thought
of as popular religious songs meant to be sung outside the church rather than
"The First Noel" portrays in vivid narrative
style the story of the birth of Christ. All six stanzas are needed to complete
the entire event when the hymn is sung. The sixth stanza urges us to join together
to sing praises to God for the marvels of His creation and for the salvation provided
through Christ's shed blood. The repetition of the joyous "noel" in the refrain
is equivalent to our singing out "happy birthday" to someone.
is interesting to observe that the "King of Israel" was first announced to "certain
poor shepherds" only, but in the final stanza the phrases "let us all" and "mankind
hath brought" remind us that Christ came to redeem the whole world.
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
They looked up and saw a star shining in
the east, beyond them far; and to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued
both day and night.
And by the light of that
same star, three wise men came from country far; to seek for a king was their
intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.
This star drew nigh to the northwest, o'er Bethlehem it took its rest; and there it
did both stop and stay, right over the place where Jesus lay.
Then entered in those wise men three, full rev'rently upon their knee, and offered
there, in His presence, their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heav'nly Lord, that hath made heav'n
and earth of naught, and with His blood mankind hath bought.
Noel, noel! Noel, noel! Born is the King of Israel!"
Used with permission from the Devotion Book, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Browse through CBN.com's Christmas Resource
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