He is a Personation

Harry Belafonte and Mahalia  Jackson both recorded it in 1956, and many other singers and bands have covered it –  but I know it as the pop-disco hit by Boney M. What I did not know until researching this post is that the composer was Jester Hairston (1901-2000), born in North Carolina.  I have also heard a Caribbean calypso version, but the song is an American composition originally. J. Hairston appeared in a number of well-known films and lived to be 98.

I never liked Boney M very much when they were at their height in the 70’s.  They came from the Caribbean but became stars living as immigrants in (West) Germany. I remember a bunch of poppy dance tunes with silly names like Daddy Cool etc. I never heard Mary’s Boy Child until around the year 2000—but with every passing winter I love this song more and more. It grows on me every year when the radio stations drag it out for the obscenity of Christmas in the USA. It is perfect in theology, it is heartfelt, it is transparent, it is eternal truth and it has a disco beat. It catalyzes all the absurd contradictions of the holiday season.

Believing sinners (such as me) and unbelievers alike get swept up in the season against their own wills.  I try to hold out against the  holiday brainwashing and media-driven frenzy – but I eventually catch the “peace and goodwill” infection every year.  It steals up on me when I least expect it – usually after a fit of Scrooge-like brooding negativity.  This song is partly to blame. It condenses the mystery of Christ’s incarnation into 5 minutes of hummable pop. And yet it is timelessly profound  – and if you listen closely, through 20 centuries over Judea in Palestine, your soul may be broken on the rock that is salvation. Who knows what the shepherds heard in the air that night, or what they saw; one wonders if they beheld celestial beings in disco garb singing this song from behind the sky . . .

 Boney M  (1978)

*There is a stanza missing from the YouTube.
Not sure why – but the radio version contains it.  I included it below.

Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day...

Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say,

Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

While shepherds watch their flock by night,

they see a bright new shining star,
they hear a choir sing a song,
the music seemed to come from afar.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

(Hum it with Boney M)

For a moment the world was aglow, all the bells rang out
there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted:
let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace“.

Now Joseph and his wife, Mary,
came to Bethlehem that night,

they found no place to bear her child,
not a single room was in sight.

And then they found a little nook in a stable all forlorn,
and in a manger cold and dark, Mary’s little boy was born.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

For a moment the world was aglow, all the bells rang out
there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted:
let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace.

Oh my Lord
You sent your son to save us
Oh my Lord
Your very self you gave us
Oh my Lord
That sin may not enslave us
And love may reign once more
Oh my Lord
when in the crib they found him
Oh my Lord
A golden halo crowned him
Oh my Lord
They gathered all around him
To see him and adore
(This day will live forever)
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
They had begun to doubt you
Oh my Lord (He is the truth forever)
What did they know about you ?
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
But they were lost without you
They needed you so bad (His light is shining on us all)
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
with the child’s adoration
Oh my lord (He is a personation)
There came great jubilation
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
And full of admiration
They realized what they had (until the sun falls from the sky)
Oh my Lord (Oh praise the Lord)
You sent your son to save us
Oh my Lord (This day will live forever)
Your very self you gave us
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
That sin may not enslave us
And love may reign once more…

~~

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;
and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2nd Corinthians 4:3-6  [KJV]

2 comments on “He is a Personation

  1. Rick Araya says:

    I like the lyrics gonna go find the song…

    Like

  2. drew says:

    You will be blessed. Seek and you shall find. The song also has anti-subluxating properties…that is to say a strong propensity toward realignment.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for connecting.

    Like

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