One of the joyous difficulties of the Advent season is finding a way to include in the service all the wonderful hymns and carols that we only get to sing during this time of year—an impossible task, for sure. Today, we will get to sing one of the more obscure members of the Christmas carol tradition. Come All You Worthy Gentlemen is also called the SOMERSET CAROL, named for the region of England where it originated, just like the more popular SUSSEX CAROL (On Christmas Night, All Christians Sing) which we’ll also be singing this morning. Ethnomusicologist Cecil Sharp, who collected hundreds of melodies from rural England and the southern United States in the early 20th century, first notated and published the tune in 1907. Sharp learned it from an aged villager who reported that he “had learned it from his mother… when he was a lad.” This carol is probably best known for its dramatic use in composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 1912 masterpiece for choir and orchestra, Fantasia on Christmas Carols. The final verse of this rough-hewn folk song lifts up a prayer that God would bless all our generations with the comfort and joy that the blessed Savior brings. This morning, let’s make it our prayer as well. —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Lift, Gates, Doors, King, Glory, Mighty, Battle, Hosts
Keystone Verse: Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory. (Psalm 24:10)
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!