This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.
Though he himself for cold do shake,
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.
With tears he fights and wins the field;
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.
His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.
My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.
Music by Benjamin Britten, Lyrics by Robert Southwell
Satan railed against the might of God, but now he is foiled by a God who has become weak. Satan sought to destroy man in his weakness, but now man has been made strong by the coming of the Mighty One. He comes disguised, clothed in the frame of human flesh, but is no mere imposter, for he takes on human nature and becomes one of us. He comes a soldier into the camp of the enemy, the world occupied by Satan, comes in the least expected way, as a helpless child, defenseless but disguised, strategically entering enemy territory in humble and helpless guise. Satan tempts him in his human weakness, but he leans upon the strength of the word of God. Satan laughs as the Christ is rejected and killed by His own, again weak and helpless as when He entered the world, but in His weakness he foils Satan's plan, by His death defeating death. The foolishness of man is the wisdom of God, and the weakness of man is the strength of God. The glory of God is manifested in weakness, and man is lifted up by God coming down. His appearance among us, His becoming one of us makes us His own and blesses the whole human race. He is our shield, our righteousness, the provider of our strength and the glory of our weakness. Glory to the Mighty King who cries helplessly for his mother in a stall among the animals! Glory to the Mighty King who hangs limply, bleeding and dying on a cross! His humiliation is our glorification, his weakness our strength, his death our life. To the newborn King, to the crucified King, be glory now forever and ever, Amen.