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Songs of the Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2

By John Calvin
June 2009 | Review by Neville F. Rees
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth
  • ISBN: 978-1848710108
  • Pages: 280
  • Price: £13.99
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Book Review

This is a fine volume, wonderfully produced, of a collection of fourteen sermons by John Calvin on Luke chapters 1 & 2, translated from French. All are careful treatments of the selected verses, with application as you go along, and often with such a modern tone that you forget they were preached in 1559–1560.

There is a very informative ‘Introduction’ written by the translator Robert White, covering Calvin, his preaching and commentaries. End notes are profuse for every chapter, and an extra is the prayer after the sermon, which reveals the heart of the preacher.

Some of the sermons gripped me more than others, but through all, there is a ring of humility and graciousness coming from the preacher. You feel as if you are hearing Calvin himself.

Subjects of contemporary significance occur quite naturally as the Scriptures are handled carefully and spiritually. The work of the Holy Spirit (for example, in Elizabeth’s perception when meeting Mary) is God’s gift. Most pertinent is the way Calvin applies Mary’s view of God as the Sovereign Lord of the world in its natural and continuous order, but also in the changes around us.

He states, ‘Worldly people who do not know the Scriptures are always crying “Chance, Chance”, when they see one man reduced to poverty while honours are heaped on another. Either way God is completely ignored.’

Such subjects as God’s call to men for service; honourable praying; death; and why people who have the gospel preached to them do not respond – and many others – all receive clear and helpful treatment.

Finally, there are phrases used which give Calvin’s language a thoroughly contemporary ring – like, ‘beat around the bush’, ‘building castles in the air’, and ‘silly pride’ (as the reason people do not respond to the Christian message and why Christians themselves mess up).

An invaluable read.

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