My favorite Christmas song is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley. There are so many brilliant truths in the song, but one that really struck me this season was this:

Mild He lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die

I think that this is the time of year when glory is hard to lay by the wayside. We dress up, we wear more sparkles, we decorate, we host parties, we eat well. We go on vacation to enjoy ourselves.

And yet, the King of Glory laid aside the glory that was His alone, and took on our mangled humanity in a manger. At the core of this glamorous season is the exact opposite story: the God of the universe who cast aside His glory to meet us in our brokenness.

How hard is it for us to lay aside our own glory? I’ve asked myself this many times, and still fall short. I don’t like to not receive credit for what I’ve done. I don’t like to speak and have no one listen. I don’t like dressing up without receiving compliments. I want to be known, understood and appreciated.

Glory is a tricky thing to surrender. It can sometimes be excruciating. While we might start with the glitter, gems and bright lights– and find those relatively easy to lay aside– we struggle with those internal things. Approval. Pride. Praise. Recognition.

Those are things I hate to set aside, even for a season. It’s hardest for me when the questions come from friends and acquaintances:

“What are you doing with your college degree?” I’m laying aside my glory.

“You should update your look.” No, I’m laying aside my glory.

“Why don’t you make more money?” Because I’m laying aside my glory.

“Do married women get far in any real career?” It doesn’t matter; I’m laying aside my glory.

As you can see, this is hard. To each of these questions, I want to offer an indignant answer that defends my choices, my abilities, and my heart. I want to defeat that sense of inferiority, that I’m not enough. But instead, I’ve been called to abandon my own glory, just as in Jesus, God did.

And in so many ways, there is freedom in laying aside our own glory in order to be amazed by His. We are freed from the pressure to be glorious— something that we can’t actually achieve. We are freed from the need to create glory— with our tacky possessions and sparkly adornments. We are freed to be ourselves, and to be called to a more perfect self, which Jesus offers us in Himself.

Mild He Lays His Glory By

A pretty Nativity ornament I saw at the shop!

Have you read or heard the full version of Wesley’s song? I’m pasting it here and highlighting my favorite lines!

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving pow’r,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Charles Wesley, 1739

Do you have a favorite Christmas song? What are some things that are hard for you to lay aside?