The sound of Christmas is everywhere—on the radio in my car, the music in the mall; the familiar tunes even loop in my mind all night long. My Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without the singing of “The First Noel.” This is the one Christmas carol that narrates the whole story of the birth of the Lord Jesus.
There are six verses in this song, and all verses are needed to complete the entire account of the birth. It is thought the song was brought across the English Channel by wandering troubadours. The song became a great favorite for Christmas Eve when an entire village would celebrate and sing the ringing in of the yule log. These carols were thought of as popular songs sung and were sung outside of the church instead of within.
The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.
They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
“Noel” is a French word originating from Latin, meaning birthday, believed to have had its rise in France during the 1st century. The repetition of the joyous noel in the refrain is equivalent to our singing out “Happy Birthday” to someone. When you sing “The First Noel,” this Christmas you’ll be wishing your king a great big happy birthday!