What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.
This Advent season, the last words of this hymn — specifically the last lines: “Haste, haste to bring him laud, / The babe, the son of Mary” — have been making me think quite a bit about American evangelicalism’s relationship with Mary. Wikipedia, I think, puts it best: “Marian devotions are important to the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions, but most Protestants do not accept them as proper.”
Now, I can’t speak to the anti-Marian motives of other cultures’ Protestants, but I’d hazard a guess as to why American Protestants pay Mary no regard (except, it seems, when singing Christmas songs): first, our forebears had a deep mistrust of anything Catholic; second, our forebears passed on to us their traditions — including practices that had their beginning in anti-Catholicism; third, modern Americans do not typically have a deep respect for authority (if Presidential approval ratings are any indicator). In light of these three things, it might do us some good to think about who Mary was and what she experienced in conceiving and giving birth to Jesus. Continue reading