Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35 NKJV)
The doctrine of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is foundational to Christianity. Jesus Christ, God the Son, became a human being, going through the normal process of nine months in a woman’s womb. After He was “conceived by the Holy Spirit,” He was “born of the virgin Mary,” as the Apostle’s Creed puts it. A hymn from the first century describes it this way:
Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:6-7 ESV)
What must have the reaction of the hosts of heaven been in the moment that the young woman Mary was impregnated with God the Son by the Holy Spirit? What do we think today when we ponder the wondrous mystery of God in flesh? It is impossible to understand that which is beyond understanding – Almighty God taking on a human body – but how do we respond to such a great and incomprehensible truth? Scripture offers counsel here.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5 ESV)
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10 ESV)
Silence. Stillness. Worship. Good and appropriate responses as we ponder the incarnation. Gerard Moultrie used words from the fifth century Liturgy of St. James to craft a hymn that calls us – and all “mortal flesh” – to worship as we ponder the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;\
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.
The apostle Paul wrote that “. . . being found in human form, he [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 ESV). Jesus took on human flesh for the purpose of giving his body as a sin offering on our behalf. As God provided manna from heaven for the wandering Old Testament Israelites, so the sacrifice of Christ’s body on the cross provides the heavenly “food” of forgiveness of sins and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood,
He will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food.
“I am the light of the world,” Jesus said. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 ESV). He who was the Creator and the essence of light and life came to show us the way out of the darkness of sin. The psalmist knew this to be true: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Psalm 36:9 ESV)
Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads it vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.
Heaven was filled with the praises of God before Jesus was born on earth, “. . . when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7 ESV). He enjoys such praise today as our glorified King and Lord. It should then be our joy to join the heavenly chorus in praising and giving thanks to God for Jesus.
At his feet, the six-winged seraph; cherubim, with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry,
“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Lord Most High!”
Follow this link to enjoy Fernando Ortega’s recording of this hymn. A beautiful choral and congregational rendition can be enjoyed by following this link.
 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. Words from the Liturgy of St. James, 5th century. Adapted by Gerard Moultrie, 1864. Set to the tune PICARDY (French melody, 17th century), arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams, 1906 in TRINITY HYMNAL. Suwanee, Georgia: Great Commission Publications, 2006, #193. https://youtu.be/DVJ4tlC0q_g