I’m really pleased to present this new Christmas song, ‘To Us He Came’. Geraldine Latty and Carey Luce have written a beautiful melody and my lyrics were inspired by Tim Keller’s great book, ‘Hidden Christmas’. We are releasing two versions of this song – one that could be used congregationally or as a choir performance, and a four-part harmony (SATB) arrangement for more advanced singers. Geraldine, Carey and I really hope this song will be useful to you in your churches this Christmas and in Christmases to come.
So here are some key thoughts from Keller’s book that I wanted to communicate in this lyric:
The first verse refers to Isaiah 9:2: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…” Keller makes the point that as a human race we are living in the darkness of sin with no way to get ourselves out. It is not possible for us to fix the condition of the world if we will only try hard enough. The light has come to us.
Keller then presents two huge ideas, first: “A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with Him. A deity that was an ‘all-accepting God of love’ would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas. The biblical God, however, is infinitely holy, so our sin could not be shrugged off. It had to be dealt with. He is also infinitely loving. He knows we could never climb up to Him, so He has come down to us.”
Keller continues: “God… would relate to us the way Shakespeare relates to Hamlet. Shakespeare is the creator of Hamlet’s world and of Hamlet himself. Hamlet can know about Shakespeare only if the author reveals information about himself in the play. So too the only way to know about God is if God has revealed Himself. God did not merely write us ‘information’ about Himself; He wrote Himself into the drama of history.”
The Christmas story is not just about all that God has done for us but how we will respond. Keller speaks about Mary’s faith, an example we can learn from. An angel tells her she will carry a baby who is God! She comes to a place of faith, thoughtfully and gradually, weighing up what the angel has said, until she is able to declare, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me” Luke 1: 46-49
In her society, having a child outside of marriage could have cost Mary her very life. At the very least there was a risk of being viewed as a social outcast, a second-class citizen for the rest of her life. To follow God in this way could have had huge personal, negative, consequences for her. Yet she realised she had been chosen by God and was willing to pay whatever cost was required. Joseph, too, was willing to walk that path with her. It must have taken incredible courage, just as, Keller notes, it took incredible courage for Jesus to become a helpless, dependent baby. For us too, there is the reminder that however inadequate we may feel we can still play our part. And that, in our changing society, it will take increasing courage for us to stand up for our faith.
Keller writes, “Christmas means that we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God Himself could save us… To accept the true Christmas gift, you have to admit you’re a sinner. You need to be saved by grace. You need to give up control of your life. That is descending lower than any of us really wants to go. Yet Jesus’ greatness is seen in how far down He came to love us.” He concludes (and I love this!), “I don’t care who you are; I don’t care what you have done; I don’t care if you’ve been on the paid staff of Hell. I don’t care what your background is; I don’t care what deep, dark secrets are in your past. I don’t care how badly you have messed up. If you repent and come to God through Jesus, not only will God accept and work in your life, but He delights to work through people like you.”
To know God really is that simple. To quote Keller a final time: “The Christian life begins not with high deeds and achievements but with the most simple and ordinary act of humble asking.”
The darkest night, the deepest sleep, lay over all the earth
The Light of life, our greatest need, came through a baby’s birth
There lying in the manger, the glorious Son of God!
To us He came, His joy to save the world that God so loved
The Father raised the starry veil, revealed the ethereal choir
Eternal grace met time and space and heav’n and earth entwined
The Alpha and Omega, unlimited in power
As helpless babe, to mirey clay, came for salvation’s hour
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The Word was God, the Word made flesh, to walk as one of us
To guide us on the path of peace, to reconcile with God
The Author joined our story, so He can now be known!
And through a cross, our humble King has made our hearts His throne
As Mary prayed, ‘Your will I choose’, with courage and in awe
Now in our day, Lord, will You use our weakness for Your world?
Whate’er the cost to follow, let this now be our song:
‘My soul will glorify the Lord, for great things He has done!’
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
To all who ask, to all who seek, no matter what has been
A gift of grace is freely given to all who will receive
Now we behold His glory, in praise He comes to dwell
Alive in us, our God with us, our Lord Immanuel!
© 2021 Geraldine Latty, Carey Luce, Kate Simmonds
Geraldine Latty Music / Simmonds Songs