Your Daily Advent Devotional
December 24, 2013


For Unto Us a Child is Born

For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a Son is given,
And the government shall
be upon His shoulder,
And His Name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Recalling the creation of his masterpiece Messiah, George Frideric Handel said, "I saw the heavens opened...and God sitting on the throne...whether I was in my body or out of my body when I wrote it I know not. God knows."

His oratorio, from which "For unto Us a Child Is Born" and "I Know My Redeemer Liveth" come, was written at a phenomenal pace, probably in the country home of Charles Jennings, the author of the libretto. From start to finish, Handel's composition of the music for Messiah took just twenty-four days in the summer of 1741. Jennings's words drew heavily from the Bible, telling the story of Jesus Christ from His anticipation to His glorification. "For unto Us a Child Is Born" comes from Isaiah 9:6 with additions by Jennings.

The collaboration with Jennings came at a low point in Handel's career, but such was the inspiration found in the words that the composer (so legend has it) could be heard weeping as he worked.

Despite opposition to the Lord's words being performed in London theaters, Messiah was quickly reckoned to be the greatest composition ever. Early performances were held in aid of debtors' prisons and orphanages, enabling the delighted press to write that the Messiah had "fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and fostered the orphan."

Handel's music was held in such high esteem that Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart all admired him. Beethoven described him as musically "the master of us all" and advised students to "go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means."

Master of this technique though he was, Handel surely would have considered himself a novice next to God. After all, the birth of a child has to be the simplest of all means, but what "great effects" that had!

And the child grew, and waxed
strong in spirit, filled with wisdom:
and the grace of God was upon him.
Luke 2:40


Excerpted from:

Excerpted from Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Carols © 2013, by Barbour Publishing, Inc., used by special permission granted solely for the use of Christianbook.com.


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Discussion Question Index


 • Abigail: Jill Eileen Smith
 • Abigail's New Hope: Mary Ellis
 • Against All Odds: Irene Hannon
 • Against the Tide: Elizabeth Camden
 • Almost Forever: Deborah Raney


 • Blue Moon Promise: Colleen Coble
 • Blue Widow Brides: Maggie Brendan
 • Breach of Trust: DiAnn Mills
 • (The) Bridesmaid: Beverly Lewis
 • (The) Bridge: Karen Kingsbury
 • Brigid of Ireland: Cindy Thomson
 • Burn: Ted Dekker


 • (The) Calling: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • (The) Chance: Karen Kingsbury
 • Chasing Mona Lisa: Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey
 • Chasing the Sun: Tracie Peterson
 • Choices of the Heart: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate: Diana Wallis Taylor
 • Critical Care: Candace Calvert
 • Crossing Oceans: Gina Holmes


 • (The) Dance: Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
 • Deadline: Randy Alcorn
 • Deadly Devotion: Sandra Orchard
 • Deadly Ties: Vicki Hinze
 • Deception: Randy Alcorn
 • (The) Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow: Olivia Newport
 • (The) Discovery: Dan Walsh
 •  Dolled Up to Die: Lorena McCourtney
 • Demon: A Memoir: Tosca Lee
 • Digitalis: Ronie Kendig
 • Dogwood: Chris Fabry
 • Double Minds: Terri Blackstock
 • Dying to Read: Lorena McCourtney


 • Fair Is the Rose: Liz Curtis Higgs
 • Freefall: Kristen Heitzmann
 • Frontiersman's Daughter: Laura Frantz


 • Gift of Grace: Amy Clipston
 • Gone South: Meg Mosley
 • Grace: Shelley Shepard Gray


 • Havah; The Story of Eve: Tosca Lee
 • Heart's Safe Passage: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Highland Sanctuary: Jennifer Hudson Taylor
 • Hope of Refuge: Cindy Woodsmall


 • Intervention: Terri Blackstock
 • Into the Whirlwind: Elizabeth Camden
 • Invisible: Ginny Yttrup
 • Iscariot: Tosca Lee


 • (The) Jewel of His Heart: Maggie Brendan
 • June Bug: Chris Fabry


 • Katie's Way: Marta Perry
 • Killer Among Us: Lynette Eason


 • Lady in the Mist: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Lady of Bolton Hill: Elizabeth Camden
 • Lady of Milkweed Manor: Julie Klassen
 • (A) Lasting Impression: Tamera Alexander
 • Leah's Choice: Marta Perry
 • The Lesson: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • Lethal Remedy: Richard Mabry
 • Life in Defiance: MaryLu Tyndall
 • Like Dandelion Dust: Karen Kingsbury
 • Lonestar Sanctuary: Colleen Coble
 • Lonestar Secrets: Colleen Coble
 • Love Amid the Ashes: Mesu Andrews
 • Love at Any Cost: By Julie Lessman
 • Love Calls: Lorna Sielstad
 • Love in a Broken Vessel: Mesu Andrews


 • Making Waves: Lorna Sielstad
 • (A) Memory Between Us: Sarah Sundin
 • Moon in the Mango Tree: Pamela Ewen
 • Moonlight Masquerade: Ruth Axtell
 • (A) Most Peculiar Circumstance: Jen Turano
 • My Heart Remembers: Kim Vogel Sawyer


 • Naomi's Gift: Amy Clipston
 • Never Far From Home: Mary Ellis
 • Nightshade: by Ronie Kendig
 • No Place for a Lady: Maggie Brendan
 • (A) Noble Groom: Jody Hedlund



 • Paper Roses, by Amanda Cabot
 • Plain Jayne, by Hillary Manton Lodge
 • Preacher's Bride: Jody Hedlund
 • Promise of an Angel: Ruth Reid


 • Rebekah: by Jill Eileen Smith
 • Redeeming Love: Francine Rivers
 • Redemption: Karen Kingsbury & Gary Smalley
 • (A) Reluctant Queen: Joan Wolf
 • Remember to Forget: Deborah Raney
 • Remembered: Tamera Alexander


 • Sarah's Gift: Marta Perry
 • Shadows of the Past: Patricia Bradley
 • Simple Choices: Nancy Mehl
 • Simple Deceit: Nancy Mehl
 • Slow Moon Rising: Eva Marie Everson
 • Someone to Blame: Susanne Lakin
 • A Sound Among the Trees: Susan Meissner
 • The Sweetest Thing: Elizabeth Musser


 • Tailor Made Bride: Karen Witemeyer
 • That Certain Summer: Irene Hannon