A Coventry Carol for Connecticut

“Lullay thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye lully lullay.”

Most people don’t know that a massacre, much like the one on Friday, is just as much a part of the Christmas story as angels and shepherds. Here is that part of the story:

On their way to Bethlehem, the Wise Men told Herod (the king) that a baby had been born in Bethlehem, and that baby was going to be the king of the Jews. Herod didn’t want another king in Jerusalem. He sent the Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem with instructions to report back when they found the baby. When they didn’t report back, Herod ordered that every male child near Bethlehem under the age of two be killed. Every little boy. Every single one.

Over the past few days, I (like everybody else) have been trying to process the tragedy that happened in Connecticut. At first, I sent up silent prayers and continued with life as usual, but that didn’t last for long. Yesterday afternoon, my world kind of stopped. I was sitting in Panera, checking my email (no internet at home) and I cried. I got in the car and I cried. And I didn’t want to do anything- not read or shop for Christmas gifts or bake or anything. Nothing at all, which is unusual for me. I was mourning.

And the strangest thing comforted me in my mourning: a Christmas carol came to mind. It’s not one that you probably know the words to. You may have heard its haunting melody on some instrumental album and thought, “oh that’s nice,” but of all the songs I could ever imagine, this is the most appropriate. It’s a song that commemorates the lives of those babies who were killed because of the first Christmas. It is, appropriately, a lullaby:

“Lullay thou little tiny child
Bye bye lully, lullay.

Oh sisters too, what can we do
For to preserve this day?
This poor youngling for whom we sing
Bye bye lully, lullay.

Herod the king, in his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children slay

That woe is me, poor child for thee
And ever mourn and sigh
For thy parting neither say nor sing
Bye bye lully lulay.”

This is the world that Jesus entered: a violent, evil, ruined world. A world where songs are written in memory of little babies killed by horrible men.

So God came to Earth as a little baby because he loves little babies so so much. More miraculous than that- he loves the men who killed them.

I’m not saying that I love those men. I’m not God, after all: I can’t be entirely loving and entirely righteous at the same time. Mostly I’m human and the “righteous” side shows itself only when other people do horrible things.

But when God sees those men, he sees them first as little babies. He sees how their hearts die long before their bodies do.

I don’t often post about my faith here, but this is what truly gives me hope: That if God can love them, then surely he can love me.

So when I sing this song, I sing it in memory of those babies who died 2000 years ago, and the babies who died two days ago, and the ones whose hearts are dying before their bodies ever do.

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About Laura Lee Anderson

I believe that stories change the world. That makes me a revolutionary. View all posts by Laura Lee Anderson

5 responses to “A Coventry Carol for Connecticut

  • Desirae

    Aw, Laura Lee, what a beautiful post. I am having so much trouble with this week’s events too. I have had a lump in my throat ever since I heard the horrible news. It’s such an awful thing. I mean how does a parent, a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, friend, or nation come back from such an ugly thing? How can we make sure this never happens again? I don’t have any answers. It’s so scary out there these days.
    Hugs to you.

  • Shelver506

    *hugs* I just keep thinking of Jesus letting the little children come to Him. I remind myself that God’s goodness will always triumph over the depravity of man. Stupid, stupid man.

  • Beth

    Thank you, Laura, for posting what God laid on your heart. I, along with you, will remember whenever I hear this song.

  • Ann Fehrman

    Beautiful words! And so honest! Being a mother myself I can’t imagine how anyone affected is getting through day by day! My life would be ruined! I live for my daughter! I mourn for those family’s and I have been crying daily when I read anything about it! When will the violence end! Our children barely have enough time to be children anymore! Breaks my heart! Thanks for sharing Laura!

  • Michel Sauret

    Laura Lee, I didn’t realize you were also a Christian. This is perhaps the most difficult standpoint to take, as a believer, to de-conflict the reality of violence in a world created by a God we refer to as righteous and Holy.

    From an atheist’s perspective it really is much easier to accept such senseless violence because life is senseless and (ultimately meaningless) without a Godly creator.

    But if we also believe in God and understand our human nature, it is no wonder that violence happens in a society who rejects that God so publicly.

    Brave and faithful post.

    God bless,

    Michel

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