Posts Tagged ‘Luke 2:11-14’

Wrapped in swaddling clothes: What does that mean?

December 22, 2021

A recent blog post focused on some of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ with the heralding of the “good news” to the shepherds. The proclamation of the glory of God revealed specific details that would confirm the birth of the Savior of the world. As we read the passage from the Gospel of Luke, we find a more complete unfolding of the sequence of events:

Luke 2:11-14 (Amplified Bible):

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

This passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. We also find a reference in Luke 2:6-7:

6 While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, 7 and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.

These passages refer to the practice whereby a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, was to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:

Ezekiel 16:1-4 (NKJV):

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.

Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a blog entry from needleprint.blogspot.com, commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:

In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12).

The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes remained on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at precisely the right time. As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with signs, wonders, and miracles, one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

“He’s Here” sung by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”

Glory to God around the glory manger

December 23, 2016

Luke 2--14

The Verse of Day for December 23, 2016 comes from the concluding verses of the same passage containing the narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ found in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 2:11-14 (AMP):

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

With its reference to the manger and multitude of the angelic host of heaven offering praise and glory to God, the passage brought to mind a Christmas spiritual often sung at this time of the year: “’Round de glory manger”

In previous blog entries I have listed this selection as one of my Top 10 Christmas Spirituals. “’Round de Glory Manger,” generally performed as a choral piece, has been offered as a solo by many singers, such as Harry Belafonte and Odetta. Kathleen Battle, renowned concert singer, included the spiritual in her Christmas Concert at Carnegie Hall, after having received arrangements for soloist by Jacqueline Hairston, cousin of late conductor, arranger, and composer, Jester Hairston. Here are lyrics to another favorite spiritual sung with joy during the Christmas season:

‘Round de Glory Manger:

They turned away Mary and a-Joseph
‘Way from the inn.
They turned away Mary and a-Joseph
‘Way from the inn.
They turned away Mary and a-Joseph
‘Way from the inn;
And that’s what made de Glory Manger!

Chorus:
An’ a Hallelujah, and a Hallelujah, Lord!
Wasn’t that a bright Bethlehem morning
‘Round de Glory Manger?

They laid my pretty little Jesus
Down in the straw.
They laid my pretty little Jesus
Down in the straw.
They laid my pretty little Jesus
Down in the straw;
And that’s what made de Glory Manger!

And all his pretty little fingers
Played in the straw.
All his pretty little fingers
Played in the straw.
And all his pretty little fingers
Played in the straw;
And that’s what made de Glory Manger!

They laid my sweet King Jesus
In de Glory Manger.
They laid the blessed son of Mary
In de Glory Manger.
They laid my precious Lord of Glory
In de Glory Manger;
And that’s what made de Glory–
That’s what made de Glory–
That’s what made de Glory Manger!

Listen as the Morehouse and Spelman Choirs offer a lively rendering of the Christmas classic arranged by Willis Laurence James:

Instruments of peace on earth

December 23, 2015

Luke 2--14In the continuing account of the birth of Jesus Christ from Luke 2:11-14 (AMP), we find the Verse of the Day for December 23, 2015:

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

In the closing declaration of the passage the heavenly host offer this resounding benediction:

“Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

This expression brings to mind a recent blog entry entitled “Let the peace of God rule: Hold your peace,” which spoke of the peace of God. The following excerpt comments on this concept of ever-increasing importance:

Beyond the generally accepted definition of peace as “the normal non-warring condition of a nation, a group of nations or the world . . . a state of harmony among people or groups; cessation or freedom from strife or dissension,” the Bible speaks of peace as a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being. It is an inner reality . . . the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care; it is not dependent upon outside conditions.

In the midst of a world ravaged in war and rumors of war, there is a notable absence of peace. The entire world is still seeking to find “peace in our times.” Despite the desperate cry for peace, peace, there is no peace. Events subsequent to September 11, 2001 have catapulted the world into a state of anxiety and fearfulness. As Americans, we are aware of the absence of peace, as the United States and other nations are engaged in the war on terrorism which continues to consume the thoughts of citizens across the globe.

Our war-torn times bring to mind the words of the Psalmist, who encourages us:

Psalm 34:14

Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

Once more we are reminded that the God of peace desires that the world may experience the peace of God that He has given through His son, the Prince of Peace The passage from Luke 2 brings to mind the following poem inspired in part by a line from Dante Alighieri, noted Italian poet: E’n la sua volontade e nostra pace, which is translated: “In his will is our peace.”:

Peace

E’n la sua volontade e nostra pace.
Dante

Lord, make us instruments of your peace, this we pray:
That from our lives may stream heavenly melodies.
As consummate virtuoso compose and play
Upon our souls, inspire glorious harmonies.
In such measured moments of sweetest quietude
Arrange serenades of praise. Let grace notes resound,
As our lives crescendo in songs of gratitude,
From heart to heart, where your grace and mercy abound.
Orchestrate aubades, nocturnes, songs at eventide;
Complete cantatas of peace within us, align
Our desires and your pleasure. Here we abide,
Saxophone and soloist, communing by design.
Knowing our purpose, we remain quiet and still,
Composed in perfect peace, the center of His will.

“Lord, Make Us Instruments of Your Peace” expresses this deepest yearning of our hearts for peace.

We close our entry on peace with another song from South Africa, as Lionel Peterson offers “Peace”: