Praise the Eternal Three in One
Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary], and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
James Montgomery was a Scotsman who devoted most of his adult life to the publication of a newspaper in Sheffield, England. However, his avocation was poetry and hymn writing—he wrote at least eleven books and over 400 hymns.
“Angels from the Realms of Glory” is perhaps the best known of Montgomery’s hymns. In it he created a remarkable panorama of the whole story of redemption, paying tribute to creation in the first stanza, the crucifixion in the fifth stanza, and the eternal reign of Christ in the last two stanzas.
The final stanza is particularly intriguing because Montgomery included all three persons of the Trinity:
All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.
Not many Christmas carols do that. But acknowledging that all three persons of the Godhead were involved in Christ’s mission on earth should be part of our Christmas worship.
Gabriel told Mary, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35, emphasis mine). Old Testament writers referred to God Most High (El Elyon) when they wanted to emphasize God’s sovereignty over all people, both Jew and Gentile. It’s a name that Mary and her contemporaries would’ve associated with Jehovah, God the Father.
The angel who came to Joseph said, “what is conceived of her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:22). And then the angel refers to Isaiah’s prophecy, that the birth of Jesus meant that God (theos) had descended to earth (v. 23). Theos is the Greek word used throughout the New Testament to represent all three persons of the Godhead. When New Testament writers wanted to indicate a specific member of the Trinity they used phrases like “Spirit of God,” “Son of God,” and “God the Father.”
This Christmas as you sing the familiar advent songs, look for references to God the Father and to the Holy Spirit. Whisper a prayer of thanks to each person of the Trinity for His role in the redemption story that began in Genesis and ends in Revelation.
Read Luke 1:26-45. What was the role of the Holy Spirit in these events?
The name God Most High is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18 when Abraham met Melchizedek, a Gentile priest. To gain a clearer picture of what God Most High signifies in the Old Testament, read Psalm 47 and Psalm 83.
Immanuel means “God (theos) is with us.” How were all three persons of the Godhead present when Jesus was on earth? Luke 2:25-38 and Matthew 3:3-17 give two examples.
To read all of the lyrics to “Angels from the Realms of Glory” go to http://nethymnal.org/htm/a/f/afrglory.htm.
Denise K. Loock