~* THE FIRST NOEL *~
English Carol, before 1823

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2:20

Although no celebration of Christ's birth 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 15th Century.

Noel is a French word believed to have originated from Latin meaning "birthday". And as "Emmanuel" means "God with us", that portion "el" could be a reference to the divinity of the Child Who was born. The song may have been brought across the channel to England by the wandering troubadours. The carol under the English form, "Nowell", became a great favorite for the eve of Christ's birth, especially in the west of England. At this time carols were thought of as popular religious songs meant to be sung outside the church rather than within.

"The First Noel" portrays in vivid narrative style the story of the birth of Christ. All seven verses are needed to complete the entire event when the hymn is sung. The seventh 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.

It 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!



The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay tending their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then wise men lookèd 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.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Those Wise Men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
And they followed the star 'til it took its rest;
And then it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One enterèd it them for to see,
And found the young child in poverty.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
Full reverently upon the knee,
And offered there, in His presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.



*For Today*: Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-20

Let us allow the joy of Christ's birth to be reflected on our faces and heard in our glad singing of praises to Him all through this season celebrating His birth.

Music

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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