“…are met in thee tonight.” These words are from the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem, written in 1868 by Episcopal priest, Phillip Brooks who lived in Boston.
The hopes and fears — the reason we need hope is frankly because sometimes we lose it. The fears overtake us. Even a temporary loss of hope is a heavy and dark feeling and is best relieved when we feel that others understand it. Elton John’s song “Sad Songs,” says
“when all hope is gone, sad songs say so much. When someone else is suffering enough to write it down… then it’s easier to have those songs around.”
In essence, the song says that misery loves company — something we often say with a negative connotation. But the other side of that is that it helps to know we are not alone when we feel hopeless. We carry each other’s burdens by sharing the dark feelings. Christians have long believed that the words of Isaiah 53 describe Jesus:
“… a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief…”
When hope is elusive it is a comfort to know that Jesus is not oblivious to the fear and sorrow that can crowd out hope. So, we can take heart when singing that well-loved Christmas hymn this year, because taken up in the small-phrase “the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight” says that the whole story of Jesus assures us that we are not alone, hope is not lost because Emmanuel, God, is with us.