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Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple Church, re-examines the Nativity stories told to us in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels and asks what they say about the meaning of Christmas.

The Reverend Robin Griffith-Jones, Valiant Master of the Temple in London, explores the nativity narratives recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The familiar tales of virgin birth, shepherds and Magi are intriguing and laden with symbolism and meaning. "There is far more to them, as they were written then and as they have been read over the centuries, than meets the eye," he says.

Robin explores Matthew's desire to show that all the events in his telling are there to fulfil prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures. "In Jesus, Judaism’s most venerable prophecies and vastest hopes were coming to fruition. The prophet Isaiah had written of gentiles and kings coming to Jerusalem’s God-given light, bringing gold and incense and singing the praise of the Lord.”

Luke meanwhile with his shepherds and the link to John the Baptist’s birth, has another agenda. “Luke sees two stages in God’s dispensation for the world - the old order, centred in Jerusalem and its Temple, and the new order, realised in Jesus. In Luke’s grand narrative, the new grows out of the old, confirms it and transcends it.”

To illustrate his thesis, Robin introduces music from Handel and Bach and the poetry of TS Eliot and John Donne.

Presenter: Robin Griffith-Jones
Producer: Michael Wakelin
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

28 minutes

Last on

Sun 23 Dec 2018 23:30

Music Played

  • Benjamin Britten

    A Ceremony Of Carols, Op. 28 - Procession

    Performer: The Temple Church Boys’ Choir.
    • Treblesome.
    • Orchid Classics.
  • Benjamin Britten

    A Ceremony Of Carols, Op. 28 - There Is No Rose

    Performer: The Temple Church Boys’ Choir.
    • Treblesome.
    • Orchid Classics.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Lob sei dem allmachtigen Gott

    Performer: Temple Church Choir.
    • The Temple Church Tradition.
    • Priory Records.
  • Ivor Atkins

    The Three Kings

    Performer: Choir of King’s College Cambridge & Sir David Willcocks.
    • Essential Carols - The Very Best of King’s College, Cambridge.
    • Decca Music Group Limited.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes-Sohn

    Performer: Temple Church Choir.
    • The Temple Church Tradition.
    • Priory Records.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah:Part 1, No 10. For, Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth

    Performer: Alastair Miles.
    • Handel: Messiah.
    • London Symphony Orchestra Limited.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah:Part 1, No 17. Glory to God

    Performer: Tenebrae Choir.
    • Handel: Messiah.
    • London Symphony Orchestra Limited.
  • Boris Ord

    Adam Lay Ybounden

    Performer: St Paul's Cathedral Choir.
    • Carols With St Paul’s Cathedral Choir.
    • Decca Music Group Limited.
  • Patrick Hadlet

    I sing of a Maiden

    Performer: Westminster Cathedral Choir & James O’Donnell.
    • Adeste Fideles.
    • Hyperion.
  • Thomas Tallis

    O Nata Lux e Lumine

    Performer: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
    • England my England.
    • EMI Records Limited.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    A Ceremony Of Carols, Op. 28 - Recession

    Performer: Temple Church Choir.
    • The Temple Church Tradition.
    • Priory Records.

Readings


 

Title: Matthew 1:23, The Bible, (RSV)

Publisher: Oxford University Press

 

Title: Lancelot Andrewes Christmas Sermon 1622

Author: Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One

Publisher: Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology

 

Title: Numbers 24.7 The Bible, (RSV)

Publisher: Oxford University Press

 

Title: The Journey of the Magi, Ariel Poems

Author: T. S. Eliot

Publisher: Faber & Faber

 

Title: On the Day of Christ’s Nativity

Author: John Milton

Publisher: Poetry Foundation

 

Title: Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb, The Poems of John Donne

Author: John Donne

Publisher: Lawrence & Bullen

 

Title: On Christmas-Day

Author: Thomas Traherne

Publisher: Oxford Scholarly Editions


Today’s programme was presented by Robin Griffith-Jones.

The producer was Michael Wakelin.

 

 

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