To Welcome in the Stranger

Oh, the lovely and wonderful things that they don’t play on the radio. In the endless loop of holly jolly reindeer rock–and Celine Dion, of course–we miss out on alot of really beautiful and even prophetic music.

James Taylor’s “Who Comes This Night” has become a seasonal fave of mine, and i’ve never once heard it on the radio. Probably because it has little to do with creating a warm, fuzzy, insular Christmas feeling for ones own, and everything to do with welcoming the stranger and preparing room for the holy.  It also lets us sit with the notion that perhaps Jesus, himself, comes as the stranger. That being the case…are we still ready to greet him?

In most circles, that doesn’t sell. BUT, it makes for a gorgeous song, if you can find it. My brother has shared this for Foothills’ Christmas Eve service a few times while visiting me for the holidays. His version, too, is just stunning. In fact, if i can get a recording of him, i will repost! Meanwhile, JT will have to do. I’m including the lyrics, because they need to be read as well as heard…Enjoy.

Who comes this night, this wintry night, as to the lowly manger?

The Shepherds and the Kings did come to welcome in the stranger.

Who sends this song upon the air, to ease the soul that’s aching

To still the cry of deep despair and heal the heart that’s breaking?

Brother Joseph bring the light; fast, the night is fading

And who will come this wintry night to where the stranger’s waiting?

Who comes this night, with humble heart, to give the fullest measure

A gift of purest love to bring, what good and worthy treasure?

Brother Joseph bring the lamb for they are asking for him

The children come this starry night to lay their hearts before him.

For those who would the stranger greet must lay their heart before him

And raise their song in voices sweet to worship and adore him.

Brother Joseph bring the light; fast, the night is fading

And who will come this wintry night to where the stranger’s waiting?

Brother Joseph bring the lamb for they are asking for him.

The children come this starry night to lay their hearts before him.
Pure of heart this starry night to lay their hearts before him.

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"Brother Joseph, Bring the Light!" Chris Campbell via flickr

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Judy MacKeigan

    Thanks for sharing this, I had not heard it before. I am enjoying your Advent posts. No, make that, I have been touched and moved to laughter and tears by these posts. I am a member of Westlake Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ohio and our folk/gospel group performs several of Kathy Mattea’s Christmas songs. If you are not familiar with her two Christmas albums, “Joy for Christmas Day” and “Good News,
    ” I highly recommend them!
    Merry Christmas
    Judy MacKeigan
    Avon, Ohio

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      thanks for reading, judy, and thanks for the feedback! hoping i can make some of this into a book… blessings to you and your westlake family. i will check out the kathy mattea stuff!

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      thank you so much, judy. it’s great to hear from people who are reading! say hi to the ohio disciples from your friends in Arizona…

  • Bridget

    You’re singing my tune! Give me Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem, What Child is This, and my fav, In the Bleak Midwinter any day!