Updated: 11/26/2013 11:10 AM
A Message from Our Pastor
“Savior of the Nations, Come”
“Savior of the nations, come, Show yourself the virgin’s son. Marvel, heaven, wonder, earth, That our God choose such a birth.” (LSB #332)
With these words, St. Ambrose begins one of the earliest written hymns that we have today. Despite the fact that this hymn was written in the late 300’s A.D., it speaks just as powerfully to us today as it did to the original hearers.
So, what is it about this old Latin hymn that caused Luther to translate it into German and use it extensively? What is it that caused this hymn to be translated into English for our use today? It is not because it has a catchy tune that makes it memorable, for its tune has changed through the years. No, it is the message that is spoken through the verses that makes it so timeless. For in this hymn, Ambrose speaks nothing more and nothing less than the Gospel message of Christ Jesus.
As we enter this Advent season, we focus on one particular aspect of the Gospel, Christ’s coming. “Savior of the Nations Come” is how Ambrose puts it. These opening words are both an invitation for our Lord and Savior to come to us, as well as a plea for His coming. In this plea, we acknowledge that Jesus’ coming is not the coming of an ordinary man. No, His coming is the coming of God Himself into the flesh of man through the miraculous means of the virgin birth. This is not something to dismiss as impossible or unimportant. As Ambrose puts it, “Marvel, Heaven, wonder, earth, That our God chose such a birth.”
Ambrose wrote several verses of his hymn talking about the virgin birth. This is to emphasize that Jesus Christ is no mere man. For all of mankind is sinful from conception and a sinful human could not do the work that Christ came to do for us. No, Christ is no mere man. He is God, the second person of the Trinity. The hymn puts it this way; “No man’s power of mind or blood. But the Spirit of our God Made the Word of God be flesh, Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.” So simply put, but so important is its truth and meaning for everyone, past, present, and future.
But it is not just Jesus’ miraculous birth that we focus on and remember during Advent. If all Christ did was to live on earth as a man for a while, then we would still be in trouble. We would still die as unforgiven sinners. But, as we know, there was a lot more to Christ’s coming.
The entire purpose of Jesus’ coming, of His virgin birth, was so that he could die on the cross for us. Ambrose speaks of this also in the hymn. “God the Father was His source, Back to God He ran His course. Into hell his road went down, Back to His throne and crown. Father’s equal, you will win victories for us over sin. Might eternal, make us whole; Heal our ills of flesh and soul.” With Christ’s death and resurrection, we receive the forgiveness of sins. We therefore eagerly await the second coming of Christ in His glory.
So join with me this Advent season in saying “Savior of the nations come.” As we remember His coming as the babe in Bethlehem and as we look forward to the day of His return, the day when we will join Him in heaven for all eternity. “Glory to the Father sing, Glory to the Son, our King, Glory to the Spirit be, Now and through eternity.”