Christmas Eve: One Solitary Life

In the mid-1970s my wife’s grandmother took us to a showing of Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular in Manhattan.

It was spectacular.

Music, drama, and the Rockettes. I was surprised at the ending as a manger scene appeared on stage with the narration of the poem One Solitary Life.

One Solitary Life was written by a Baptist pastor in the mid-1920s and because of Radio City fame, has become perhaps, the second most popular Christmas reading after Luke 2!

I loved the Christmas Spectacular and was amazed that it would end by focusing on Jesus. Yes, Rockettes with Jesus in the same production seems odd – but it worked.

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

For over 80 years, One Solitary Life ended the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. In recent years, the poem has been edited out of the script.

This should not be surprising!!

I’m going to read One Solitary Life before my family’s Christmas dinner this year.  

I grill steak for the Christmas dinner. I think mixing One Solitary Life with steak will be okay. I’m looking forward to both.

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