A Nativity Spiritual -- By: Frances A. Mosher

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 06:2 (Autumn 1993)
Article: A Nativity Spiritual
Author: Frances A. Mosher


A Nativity Spiritual

Frances A. Mosher

Pianist, Christ Congregation
Dallas, Texas

Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Sweet little Jesus Boy,
They made You be born in a manger;
Sweet little holy Child,
We didn’t know who You was.

Didn’t know You come to save us, Lord,
To take our sins away,
But please, Sir, forgive us, Lord;
We didn’t know who You was.

You done told us how—
We is a-tryin’. Master,
You done showed us how,
Even when You’se dyin’.

Jest seem like we can’t do right—
Look how we treated You;
Our eyes was blind, we couldn’t see;
We didn’t know ‘twas You.

Sweet little Jesus Boy,
They made You be born in a manger.
Sweet little holy Child,
We didn’t know who You was.

The lyrics of this lovely Christmas spiritual are outstanding on two counts. First, they demonstrate the affectionate response to the story of the Christ Child that is common to people of all races and cultures, and second, they address two important doctrinal issues with profound simplicity.

The lyricist’s belief in the deity of Christ is apparent by his (or her) addressing the “sweet little Jesus Boy” as both “Sir” and “Lord,” as well as by the frequent apology that, “We didn’t know who You was.” The true meaning of “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a) is often understood by the average person all the while it eludes

many who hold advanced degrees in theology. This testifies to our Lord’s words in Matt 11:25: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”

The lyrics also demonstrate the singer’s understanding that the purpose of our Lord’s coming was “to save us … to take our sin away.” While it is true that a reference is made in the song to Christ’s serving as an example to us, there is also recognition of our inherent inability to follow that example. It is evident that the lyricist recognized our inability to meet God’s standard and the subsequent necessity of Jesus’ saving us and taking our sins away. Jesus did not just set a good example and start us on the road to working for our salvation; He actually took our sin away. Christ Himself states that our salvation was the primary purpose of His coming: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (

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