17 April, 2024

‘The Spirit of Christmas Eve’ (1906)

by | 24 December, 2023 | 0 comments

(We hope you enjoy this special Sunday edition of our “Throwback Thursday” feature.)

This is excerpted from an essay written by Anna D. Bradley, a hymn writer and a frequent contributor to Christian Standard. (Her most notable hymn might be “Speed the Light.” It starts: “There’s a land beyond the sea where the fields are white and fair.” The refrain: “Speed the light, or else we die; Souls redeemed, oh, speed the light. Heed, oh heed, our anguished cry— Speed the light, oh, speed the light.”) 

It is unclear to whom Bradley was referring starting in paragraph three, when she spoke of a “letter” in which the writer said Christmas Day was “handed down from heathendom.” It may have been a personal letter, a letter previously published in Christian Standard, or a letter that appeared in some other publication of the time. 

_ _ _ 

The Spirit of Christmas Eve 

By Anna D. Bradley 
Dec. 22, 1906; p. 20  

I wonder what it is that makes a Christmas Eve so unlike every other eve of all the year? Say what we will, argue and scoff as we may, it is not the same. The dullest heart can feel the difference. . . . 

On Christmas Eve every heart expands, and every hand extends, and every voice grows gentle, while the angels’ song of peace comes re-echoing down the centuries, filling your home and mine with benedictions that no other day can give. 

A certain “somebody” whom, despite his heresy, I still love dearly, said in a recent letter: “It is all foolishness, this fancy about Christmas Day. Christmas Day differentiates in nothing from any other day. Anyway, it did not originate with the Christian, but was handed down from heathendom.” If my Pacific-coast correspondent could have seen the way I snubbed his ideas, he would never find the courage to air them again. 

“Handed down from heathendom,” was it? Then all honor and our loving gratitude to heathendom for handing us down anything half so precious and so priceless. If this be true, and I sincerely hope it is, we owe a debt to them we never can repay, unless, indeed, we send them a knowledge of the blessed Christchild which was made the day they gave us a sacred benediction. The only objection I can possibly have to receiving so much that is beautiful from the heathen is that it makes my debt to them so much the greater. 

No wonder the Christchild, after triumphing over death, remembered the heathen. No wonder his last entreaty to you and me was to go into all the world, bearing his glad message of freedom to every creature. 

I am not greatly concerned in knowing who originated the glad thought of keeping the Christmas time; but I am so thankful it is in vogue while I am here. How much of happiness would my life now miss if robbed of its Christmas memories. . . . 

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