Emily E. S. Elliott, 1836-1897
I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
This spiritually enriching text differs from the usual Christmas songs since it focuses not only on Jesus’ birth but also on His life on earth, His suffering and death, and the ultimate triumph of His second advent.
This hymn was written by Emily Elliott to teach children the truths of the advent and nativity seasons. Emily’s life was filled with benevolent activities in rescue missions and in the work of the Sunday school movement of that time. Although she wrote this text for the children of her father’s church, St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brighton, England, the easily understood wording, the poetic imagery, and the spiritual truths found in these excellent lines soon made the hymn a widespread favorite everywhere.
The clear message of each verse is accentuated by the use of contrasting sentences, each beginning with the word “but.” Then in the fifth stanza, the contrast is reversed with the rejoicing at Christ’s return and the prospects of being at His side throughout eternity. The refrain after each verse effectively personalizes the truth presented. This fine hymn has proved to be an inspiration not only to children but to adults as well, during the Christmas season and also throughout the entire year.
For Today: Matthew 1:18-25; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-11
The Christmas story must become very personal in our individual lives. Carry this musical response with you—
Margaret tune Timothy R. Matthews, 1826-1910