The Lord contracted to a span.
A hymn by Joseph Hart to get you ready for Christmas.
I know I said I’d be taking a reprieve from writing till the New Year, but I couldn’t help but interrupt this self-imposed furlough to share a few lines from a hymn I stumbled upon which are able to fill anyone with the appropriate Christmas spirit. Written by 18th century songwriter, Joseph Hart, this hymn is primed with a powder-keg of hope and peace as only found in God incarnate. The thrust of these words exult in the angelic tidings that Bethlehem’s newest infant was none other than Christ the Lord (Luke 2:9–14). Ponder these words, this morning, as you celebrate the Savior’s birth:
The Lord that made both Heav’n and Earth,
And was himself made Man,
Lay in the Womb, before his Birth,
Contracted to a Span;
Matur’d by Time, ‘till forth he came
A Babe like others seen;
As small in Size, and weak of Frame,
As Babes have always been.
From thence he grew an Infant mild,
By fair and due Degrees;
And then became a bigger Child,
And sat on Mary’s Knees.
At first held up, for want of Strength;
In time alone he ran:
Then grew a Boy; a Lad; at length
A Youth; at last a Man.
Behold, from what Beginnings small
Our great Salvation rose!
The Strength of God is own’d by all:
But who his Weakness knows?
Thus Souls that would to Heaven attain,
Must Jacob’s Ladder climb;
And Step by Step the Summit gain,
In Measure, and in Time.
Let not the Strong the Weak despise;
Their Faith, tho’ small, is true;
Though low they seem in others Eyes:
Their Saviour seem’d so too.
Nor meanly of the Tempted think:
For, O what Tongue can tell,
How low the Lord of Life must sink,
Before he vanquish’d Hell!
The least Believer is a Saint.
And if our Growth be slow,
We should not therefore tire and faint:
Since Christ himself could grow.
As in the Days of Flesh he grew
In Wisdom, Stature, Grace;
So in the Soul that’s born anew,
He keeps a gradual Pace.
No less Almighty at his Birth,
Than on his Throne supreme:
His Shoulders held up Heav’n and Earth,
When Mary held up Him.
Merry Christmas everyone! May you enjoy the day with the warmth of fellowship from family and friends. And may you relish in the life-altering news of God’s descent to earth who, though an infant, is “no less almighty at his birth.”
Joseph Hart, Hymns, &c. Composed on Various Subjects (London: H. Trapp, 1777).