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The First Noel

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.1

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”2


People have been celebrating the birth of Jesus since 300 AD, which means Christians have formally and collectively celebrated his birth for over 1700 years! The popular Christmas Carol, The First Noel, is believed to date from the 13th or 14th century, a time in which all medieval civilization in Europe was springing to life. Most medieval poetry was written to be sung; this makes the tune to the song even older, and is likely French or English. Noel is the French word for Christmas and it's from the Latin natalis, meaning birthday—Christ-mas Birthday.


Like many of our beloved Christmas carols, this song tells the story of the night that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke 2 and Matthew 2. And, what a special night that was! Imagine the thrill and unexplained excitement that must have been felt throughout the countryside. The star that shined in the sky, brighter than any star to ever been seen, silently shouted out for the whole world, “Your Messiah is here!”. This carol shows us that the humblest of shepherds and the wisest of men, both found their way to the Savior that first Christmas and bowed and worshiped their King with their greatest gifts.


This scene has been made vivid to us by music and by the Nativity sets that grace our homes during this most precious season. What a privilege to be among the centuries to celebrate the arrival of the King of kings to this world! My heart is full this Christmas with the joy that comes with knowing JESUS!


This star drew nigh to the northwest,

o'er Bethlehem it took its rest;

and there it did both stop and stay,

right over the place where Jesus lay.


Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel—Born is the King of Israel!3



Suggested Prayer: God, thank you for always fulfilling your promises. Today, I thank you for fulfilling your most special promise— sending your son, Jesus, to live and die on Earth as a man. Because of Him, I can learn to live a God-honoring life and spend eternity with you. I'm forever filled with joy and gratitude for The First Noel. In Jesus name, Amen.


  1. Luke 2:8 (ESV).

  2. Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV).

  3. 4th stanza of the song, “The First Noel”. Original author unknown.


Today’s Encounter was written by: Veronica B.

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.