URC Daily Devotion 26 December 2022

Monday 26 December 2022 

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten is a doctrinal hymn based on the Latin poem “Corde natus” by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius.  The ancient poem was translated and paired with a mediaeval plainchant melody “Divinum mysterium” to which it is most often sung today.  You can hear this carol here

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

2: O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

3: This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

4: O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

5: Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

St Matthew 1: 1 – 17

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,  and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,  and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,  and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel,  and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,  and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,  and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,  and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.


Today is a time for gazing upon the Holy Family and bringing Joseph into the foreground. Let’s look closely at a painting by Raphael, also displayed in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

Joseph offers Jesus a handful of flowers. Background foliage and a sealed fountain-head evoke imagery from the Song of Solomon, that enigmatic Old Testament text which is sometimes associated with devotions to Mary.  Joseph provides earthly stability for little Jesus, the baby whose genes he appears not to share. 

Matthew still chooses to highlight Joseph’s family tree, showing continuity between past and present. Jesus is included and welcomed.   We read about three sets of fourteen past generations.  The list of ancestors features well-known patriarchs.  We find David the shepherd king there, as well as Josiah, exiled for years in Babylon before his son Jeconiah finally experienced liberation and return.  One day the people of God would become an instrument of healing and illumination for the whole earth. 

Yet Matthew’s long genealogy is far from tidy.  We also find Tamar, whose twins were the seed of Judah, her very own father-in-law. There’s Rahab, a prostitute who willingly harboured spies, enabling Joshua to win the battle of Jericho.  Ruth is a Moabite woman, utterly dependent upon the favour of her kinsman, Boaz.  Beautiful Bathsheba is there too, once the victim of King David’s voyeurism. 

More recently, things have been tough for Joseph.  He had scarcely been able to grasp that Mary’s child could be the long-expected one, God incarnate.  He had wanted to walk away.

And then, following angelic intervention, his bewilderment and reluctance began to melt away.  He received the baby whole-heartedly, welcoming him into this complex human family full of flaws and shadows.  Perhaps Joseph lent Jesus not so much prestige and respectability as normality.  


God of our past and our future, Source and Journey’s End, we come to you in awe and humble gratitude. Throughout human history you reach into untidy, chaotic lives.  We marvel at glimpsing your face in Mary’s baby.  May we in turn become more like you, unpolished, yet bearing the living flame of your love. Amen.




Today’s writer

Roberta Ritson, is a fourth year student at the Scottish College and a member of Horsley Village Church, Northumberland.



New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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