On a Sunday in December when Phil McHarness walked up to the pulpit the congregation knew that the Christmas season had begun . Every year for 50 years he had walked up to that pulpit and with a song, brought the season with him. The last time he sang it he had just turned 72 years old and his voice was not as strong as it had been, but when he opened his mouth in song his tenor voice still sounded rich and full.
"Sweet Little Jesus Boy
they made you be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy chil'. Didn't know who you was.
Didn't know you'd come to save us Lord.
To take our sins away"....
I had the opportunity to hear him sing it for at least 10 years. And even now, more than ten years since I last heard him. I can still close my eyes and see him standing at the pulpit singing those words.
"Our eyes was blind we couldn't see we didn't know who you was.
Long time ago you was born. Born in a manger low.
Sweet little Jesus Boy, de world treat you mean, Lord. Treat me mean too.
But please Sir forgive us Lord we didn't know twas you.
Sweet little Jesus Boy born long time ago
Sweet little Holy child and we didn't know who you was."
For me it is the whole message of Christmas. A Child was born and our world was changed. No one was aware what his birth was about. His beginnings were so humble but his life and death and resurrection are what gives us life and hope.
When Phil sang that song it was always a capella. The congregation was always silent when he finished. It was as if he had offered a prayer for all the world.
Phil's earthly life ended soon after that December many years ago. But I can imagine him up in heaven with the angels behind him, bowing down and singing in his rich tenor voice. The song has been sung. The Christmas season can begin.
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