Between now and Christmas, I’ll be musing on a particular Christmas carol/song each week.

So…here’s a powerful one. It’s called “The Dream Isaiah Saw” and is based on Isaiah 11:6-9, the “peaceable kingdom” passage. (Here’s verse 6. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”

You might have seen Edward Hicks’s paintings of the peaceable kingdom. (Fun fact: he painted 61 versions of it.)

Anyway, peace has been on my mind a lot lately. I think we’re all sick of the meanness in the world.

Here’s the back story on the song. In 2001, Glenn Rudolph was working on a commissioned piece for the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh’s Christmas concert. Then 9/11 happened. He finished it nineteen days later and it became a dedication to those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

I’ve posted the lyrics below, but if you’re not one to read lyrics, just check out this stanza.

Nature reordered to match God’s intent,
nations obeying the call to repent,
all of creation completely restored,
filled with the knowledge and love of the Lord.

Some would say the Isaiah passage has to do with the future; some would argue that this is what Jesus is all about in the here and now. If the whole world REALLY practiced Jesus’s ways, we would already be experiencing the peaceable kingdom.

The problem, however, is that the whole world doesn’t do that. Man’s inhumanity to man has been around from the beginning.

But this is where Isaiah’s prophecy comes in handy. We can look at all the meanness or we can remember this passage. It keeps me hopeful, because I believe eventually, all shall be well. It’s not wishful thinking; it’s where I put my trust.

“Lions and oxen will sleep in the hay,
leopards will join with the lambs as they play,
wolves will be pastured with cows in the glade,
blood will not darken the earth that God made.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
life redeemed from fang and claw.

Peace will pervade more than forest and field:
God will transfigure the Violence concealed
deep in the heart and in systems of gain,
ripe for the judgement the Lord will ordain.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
justice purifying law.

Nature reordered to match God’s intent,
nations obeying the call to repent,
all of creation completely restored,
filled with the knowledge and love of the Lord.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
knowledge, wisdom, worship, awe.

the dream isaiah saw – YouTube

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