10 December 2009

Adam, Eve, and the Three Wise Men of the Nativity

For many years, I was mystified by the seventeenth-century French Christmas carol “Quelle est cette odeur agréable?” When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra performs Mack Wilberg’s ethereal arrangement that begins with the words:
Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing stealing our senses all away?
Never the like did come a-blowing, shepherds, in the flow’ry fields of May,
have you ever wondered, as I have, why a particular smell should be taken as a sign of Christ’s birth? The qualifier “goodly” tells us that the odor has nothing to do with the shepherds’ flocks, nor with the cattle in the manger. Moreover, the original French text confirms that it was not the fragrance of the springtime flowers, but something completely new—overpowering and rapturous.

To comprehend these word pictures, we have to know something of how early Christians linked traditions about the life of Adam and Eve to the story of the Nativity of Christ...

Full text

Also available here in Spanish, thanks to a translation done by Juan Reta.

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