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The Song of Zacharias

Reference > Literature > Poetry > Christmas Songs (Luke's Gospel)

In the Gospel according to Luke, we learn of Zacharias and Elizabeth, an elderly couple who had never known the joy of having children, because Elizabeth was barren, and she was well past child-bearing years. Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple, and one day, while performing his duties in the temple, an angel appeared to him, announcing that he and Elizabeth would have a child, who would do great things for God.

Zacharias was stunned by this news, and demanded a proof, or sign, that this would be happen. The angel rebuked him for his lack of faith, and told him that he would be unable to speak until the child was born. Accordingly, Zacharias goes out from the temple, unable to speak, and remains mute for the nine months of his wife's pregnancy.

When the son is born, friends and relatives assume that he will be named Zacharias, after his father, but Elizabeth is adamant: "We will name him John." Skeptical, the friends remind her that John is not a family name, and they ask Zacharias what he thinks. Still unable to speak, Zacharias writes on a piece of paper, "His name is John." Matthew writes that immediately his mouth was opened and he was able to speak.

The following song or poem was a prophecy about his son, and were some of the first words Zacharias spoke after his long silence. The text comes from the King James Version of the Bible. Following the song are some questions. Some questions you will be able to answer directly from the text, and others you may need to do a bit of research before answering.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.


Why would Zacharias doubt, when the angel gave his message?
What does the word "redeemed" in the first line of Zacharias's poem mean?
Zacharias referred to his son as a "horn of salvation." What do you think he meant by that?
Zacharias refers to a holy covenant. What is a covenant?
List two things that Zacharias says his son would do.
What is remission?
What is a dayspring?
What do you think it means to "sit in darkness?"
What do you think it means to sit "in the shadow of death?"
What are the things that are offered to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death?
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