Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance?

kenneth cope - FaceToFace-cover

The smells of Christmastime…freshly cut pine boughs…hot cider with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and a splash of orange…peppermint…gingerbread…chocolate candies…not to mention all of the wonderful foods that we eat as we gather together for mealtime. I love the smells of Christmas!

There’s an old traditional French Christmas carol (translated into English by A. B. Ramsay) titled “Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance?” In it, the shepherds are asked: ‘What is this pleasant fragrance, shepherds, that enraptures all our senses? Nothing else as exquisite blows to you or us through the air, even if we stood amidst the fields of flowers in spring.’

What is this goodly fragrance flowing…stealing our senses all away?

Well, this song is not talking about the smell of pine, or cloves, or peppermint…or even chocolate. :) What is the goodly, incomparable fragrance that enraptures our senses, and steals our attention away from all else?

It is Christ.

But how do we “smell” Christ? Well, first off, we must realize that we are not talking about the function of our noses here. We are talking about our spirits and their capacity to detect, recognize, and fully appreciate the glorious God and Savior that comes among men.

Can your spirit “smell” the sweet aroma of heaven and holiness? Can your spirit “taste” its delicious flavor?

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “good doctrine….tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you….You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which are given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.”

And what doctrine could be sweeter than that which details the coming, the life, and the redemptive work of our Savior? Somehow, at this time of year, the love of Christ seems to more successfully shed itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men, probably because we humans are more open to it. There is more kindness, generosity, and love…all of which are natural fruits that spring bountifully from our association with Jesus, who is the True Vine.

His love is the most desirable above all things, and the most joyously delicious to the soul! This is an incomparable aroma, more pleasant to those blessed shepherds than the fields of flowers in the springtime…a savor more satisfying to kings and wise men than could be found at the lavishly abundant tables of their banquets and feasts.

Jesus is delicious! And He said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This confused so many of those who walked with Him. They didn’t know what to make of it. And yet, He told them, “the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you…are spirit” (John 6: 63), which implies that, since His words are spiritual, we have to ingest them spiritually and allow our spirits to do with them what our bodies do with the food we eat.

To eat His flesh and drink His blood is certainly more than partaking of the holy sacrament each Sunday, for even the sacrament, as sacred an ordinance as it is, is still only a symbol of what our souls should truly be feasting on.

Christ is our Christmas feast, and more! He is the Bread of life!

As C. S. Lewis said: “He Himself is…the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

May our Lord and Savior become the favorite fragrance of the season to you…the best and most delectable meal…that which delights and enraptures and satisfies above all else!

Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing…stealing our senses all away?

It is the Lord!

Wishing you a delicious-to-the-soul Christmastime! :)

6 Responses to Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance?

  1. Angie Owens

    Wonderful Post! I love the idea that Christ is our spiritual Christmas Feast! I also love the smells of Christmastime, and that includes all of those things that make my spirit feel full–like good Christ and Family-centered Christmas music. Looking forward to more Christmas posts in the future!

  2. Oh Kenneth, you have encompassed deep and pure feelings of the heart, Thank you for once again giving words to unspoken and heartfelt truths of the soul.

  3. Fran Booker

    This post was definitely “food for thought”! :>) I have never heard it put quite like that but I will digest what you wrote and look for new feelings of “fullness”!! I am always grateful when someone shares feelings about the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks again my friend!

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