We have selected LSB 546, O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild, as our AD 2022-2023 Christmastide seasonal hymn. During this portion of the Church Year, we remember the human birth of the eternally begotten Son of God, to receive the name Jesus to proclaim that, “He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)1 Indeed, to properly understand the significance of the season, one must view it through the lens of the Cross. Our hymn is a beautiful reminder to us of this fundamental truth.
Each stanza of our hymn is bracketed by the phrase, “O Jesus so sweet, O Jesus so mild,” and, as we sing the hymn, we proclaim these very words a total of six times! The words “sweet” and “mild” certainly conjure up the image of the beautiful baby Jesus, yet they go much farther. These words point us squarely to the Cross (as does the very name Jesus, as noted above); “sweet” recollects our Lord’s sacrificial death at Calvary to atone for our sins2, and “mild” recalls His mercy, namely that because He took the punishment for our sin, we are spared that which we deserve.3
The first stanza of our hymn echoes the Gospel texts for the Eve and Morning of the Feast of the Nativity.4 Note also that it in essence paraphrases the Nicene Creed, “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.”5 Imagine, the One through Whom all was created, the very Life of all men,6 making Himself nothing7 to come to us as a tiny, helpless infant! The second stanza picks up from the first by further pointing us to the purpose of our Lord’s incarnation, namely to save us, from the wrath of God, sin, death, and hell by His blood8 shed on the Cross (where, to the mocking enemies, He appeared just as helpless as in the manger9), and to rise again to declare us right, namely to reconcile us, with the Father.10 The third stanza continues with our joyful response to that which we have received through our Lord’s incarnation, death and resurrection.11 We rejoice in what God has done for us not only on the high feasts of the Church Year, but every day of our lives. The stanza concludes with a brief prayer, which echoes that of David, as he collected the offerings of God’s people for the future temple. The prayer begins the confession that our life and all that we have are ultimately His, and concludes with a petition to keep us faithful to Him.12 In the post-Communion collect (LSB p. 201), we pray a similar prayer.
As Christians then, we celebrate Christmastide in light of Holy Week and Easter. It is through our reconciliation with God that, in spite of everything happening around us, we truly have peace on earth.13 We are thankful that you have joined us today to receive God’s gifts in our midst, and if you are visiting with us, we hope to see you again. We wish you a joyous and blessed Christmastide and pray God’s peace on you throughout the year ahead.
- The name Jesus is Greek for the Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua), namely YHWH saves, or YHWH is salvation.
- Ephesians 5:2; “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” is expressed in the Greek text as, “an offering and a sacrifice to God into an aroma of a sweet smell.”
- Ephesians 2:4-5; the word in the German text of the hymn is also mild, which may be translated, “merciful.”
- Luke 2:1-14; John 1:1-18
- Galatians 4:4-5
- John 1:3-4, 6:33, 10:28, 14:6
- Philippians 2:7
- Pre-communion exhortation; also 1 John 2:1-2.
- Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-39
- Romans 4:25, 5:8-10
- Romans 5:11
- 1 Chronicles 29:14, 18
- Luke 2:14; Colossians 1:19-20; c.f. LSB 380.1b