Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, A Hymn
The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
It’s so easy to keep Jesus as a baby in our minds. To think of him as docile, meek, mild, weak. But that just doesn’t quite capture the full essence of Emmanuel, God with us. Yes, human. Yes, a newborn babe. But also the one the angels praise ceaselessly; also the one at the right hand of God at the foundation of the world. It is one of the greatest mysteries of the gospel, the incarnation of Christ.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heav’nly food.
And sometimes it is hard to liken the Lord God Most High to us, mere flesh on earth. And yet, that is what he did. It always baffles me when I think of how there is no other god in any religion that brought himself down to our lowly level. And more than that, offered himself up for us, Saying “take and eat.“
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the pow’rs of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
We don’t use the word vanguard very often, but it refers to a group of people leading toward new ideas. The ideas of old, that an animal sacrifice must be made to atone for sin, were coming to an end. All creation has awaited this day. The angels knew it, and God at the dawn of time knew it; he would send his son to the world to banish the darkness, once for all.
At His feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!”
The scriptures in Isaiah 6 talk of the six-winged seraph, in the throne room before the Almighty, hiding its face from the glory of God. This is what Christ left. Coming down in human form from the splendor and Holiness of God, to earth, in a stable filled with animals, to parents poor and humble. And they named him Jesus, because he would save the people from their sins.
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Liturgy of St. James, Paraphraser : Gerard Moultrie (1864)