January 28, 2024



by Marsha Burns used by permission

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning; the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for religious reality, which the children could remember.

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me…A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem:

Luke 13:34-35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Two Turtle Doves

The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

Turtle doves form strong pair bonds, Turtle Doves have become emblems of devoted love. You can’t have one without the other.

Song of Solomon 1:15 THE BELOVED: Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove‘s eyes. This speaks of God’s love for us and our love for him … the Bridegroom and the Bride.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Three French Hens: The Three Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Faith – conviction of truth

Hope – expectation of good

Love – brotherly love, good will of Christians towards Christians which is enjoined and prompted by their religion.

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Four Calling Birds:

The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God’s reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

All four gospels present Jesus as both the Son of God and son of man. They all record His baptism, the feeding of the 5,000 from five loaves and two fishes, Mary’s anointing of the Lord Jesus, His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal, trial, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Five Gold Rings

The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:

1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy,

which gives the history of humanity’s sinful failure and God’s response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Six Geese A-laying

The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth became without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Day 1: He separated light from darkness

Day 2: He divided the waters and made heaven

Day 3: He divided the land from the sea and created grass, herbs and trees

Day 4: He created the sun, moon and stars

Day 5: He created living creatures of the air and sea

Day 6: He created creatures on the earth and man to have dominion over the earth

Day 7: He rested.

On the 7th day of Christmas my true gave to me…. Seven Swans A-swimming:

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, 7) compassion

Romans 12:6-8: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Eight Maids A-milking

The eight Beatitudes:

1) Blessed are the poor in spirit – those who know their need for God

2) those who mourn – those who have repentant hearts

3) the meek – those who rely on God instead of their own strength

4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

5) the merciful – those who help the afflicted

6) the pure in heart – free from corruption, sin and guilt

7) the peacemakers – those who help bring God’s peace to mankind

8) those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake – those who are mistreated because of Christ and suffer for His sake.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Nine Ladies Dancing:

The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Ten Lords A-leaping:

The ten commandments:

1) I AM GOD. You shall have no other gods before me;

2) Do not make an idol;

3) Do not take God’s name in vain;

4) Remember the Sabbath Day;

5) Honor your father and mother;

6) Do not murder;

7) Do not commit adultery;

8) Do not steal;

9) Do not bear false witness;

10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Eleven Pipers Piping

The eleven Faithful Apostles: (Judas had betrayed Yeshua)

1) Simon Peter – heard (and obeyed)

2) Andrew – natural man

3) James – gift or endowment

4) John – beloved of God

5) Philip — friend

6) Bartholomew – covered in blood, forgiven

7) Matthew – strong and able to fight (the devil)

8) Thomas – twin or joined with, one in heart

9) James son Alphaeus — transformed

10) Simon the Zealot – zealous for the Lord

11) Thaddaeus – courageous and bold

(Mathias was not counted into the Apostleship until AFTER Christ had died and risen.)

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Twelve Drummers Drumming:

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed:

1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell (the grave).

5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

7) I believe in the Holy Spirit,

8) the holy (catholic*) (the undivided) Church, [*should not even be in there]

9) the communion of saints (joint participation and fellowship),

10) the forgiveness of sins,

11) the resurrection of the body,

12) and life everlasting.

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