This Christmas season, I heard for the first time a lyric I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember the carol itself. Just three lines into the 1839 chestnut, Joy to the World, we sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”
But how, exactly, does one prepare in one’s heart a room for the Lord, Himself to occupy? And if such a room were prepared, would He, in fact, condescend to enter it?
Thomas à Kempis, writing in The Imitation of Christ, beseeches us, “O faithful soul! prepare your heart for this Spouse, that He may deign to visit you and abide within you. For thus He says: ‘If any man love Me, he will keep My words, and We will come unto him, and will make Our abode with him.’”
“Bless and sanctify my soul with Heavenly blessing,” he continues, “that it may become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy eternal glory; and let nothing be found where Thou deignest to dwell, that may offend the eyes of Thy Majesty.”