Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace is probably the most beautiful and meaningful statement in Joseph Mohr’s carol, Silent Night. On Christmas Eve, let’s take a look at what he meant as we prepare to celebrate his birth tomorrow.
When we begin to unpack this phrase, the first thing is to get a handle on the picture being presented. When does dawn happen? After the nighttime, at the beginning of the morning. Dawn signals the beginning of a new day. The author is communicating that the darkness is lifting and a new day is dawning.
The day or time period that is beginning is the time of redeeming grace. God’s redemption of his people had been promised for hundreds of years but had not yet come. But at this very time, the right time, a new day dawned, not a day of law but of grace.
This dawn signaled the coming of the answer for how to be freed from slavery to sin. God’s people had not yet fully understood what freedom from sin would be, but God sent the answer in the person of Jesus. The angel told Joseph what his son, the son of Mary, would be: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
As Joseph Mohr imagined Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men looking at Jesus, what they saw was the radiance of a new day, a day of grace. They saw the sun! Malachi 4:2 says, But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
His coming is a joyful occurrence! Yes, there was pain, suffering, and death awaiting Jesus. But even in that, Jesus went forward for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2). So celebrate, be glad, sing, and rejoice this Christmas if you know him. If not, ask God that you might know him, through repentance and trust, this Christmas. It will become for you the most joyous Christmas ever!