Saturday, November 24, 2012

O Come Let us Adore Him

    Since the Advent of the Christ, man has sought to capture the story of the Savior's birth with music, pen, and brush. I am drawn to the classical artists and their interpretations of the Nativity. I invite you to enter into the scenes pictured below and to become an observer. Perhaps you, too, will kneel in the straw to pay Him homage.

Paintings of the Birth of Christ, 1622 Gerard van Honthorst
Gerard Van Honthorst, 1622

I love this interpretation of the Nativity. See how the light emanates forth from the Christ Child, and how he is the center of adoration. Joseph has laced his hands on the horns of the cow and seems comfortable with what is transpiring; his gentle smile says it all. I love the humble faces of the shepherds, and in particular the boy who is turning aside to say something about the baby while he points his finger at the child they have come to see. I like to think that there are other shepherds standing outside the cave, awaiting their turn to see this Savior whose birth had been announced to them by an angelic host.

Paintings of the Birth of Christ, Caravaggio, The Nativity with Sts Francis and Lawrence, 1609
Caravaggio, 1609
Here an exhausted woman reclines, just having given birth. Mary's weariness is portrayed in the bent of her hands, but her love for the babe she has borne comes through in the tilt of her head and the expression on her face. Note how the angel bends low as he seeks to look into the face of the long awaited One.
File:Georges de La Tour - Adoration of the Shepherds - WGA12348.jpg
Adoration of the Shepherds, Georges de La Tour, 1644

This is one of my favorite paintings. The artist, Georges de La Tour, invites you to become the sixth person in the scene, bidding you to come and worship. All is still and quiet; you can almost hear a pin drop. Even the lamb does not utter a sound. There is such simplicity and stillness bound together with a sense of wonder and awe. Note that the illumination in the painting comes from a candle shielded from view by the left hand of Joseph. I love that Mary's face seemingly has an oriental cast to it and her robe is reminiscent of a kimono.

Here's a close-up of the lamb and the Christ-child who was born to be the Lamb of God. 

The following verse was written in 1656. That year, under the reign of Oliver Cromwell, England was in the middle of the Anglo-Spanish War, which began in 1654. Before it ended in 1660, the conflict had pulled in the Caribbean, the Canary Islands, and the Spanish Netherlands.

Peace? and to all the world? sure, One
And He the Prince of Peace, hath none.
He travels to be born, and then
Is born to travel more again.

~ Henry Vaughan (1622-1695), Welsh physician and poet

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