Welcome to Our World
by Chris Rice;
Worship & Song, No. 3067.
A more contemporary selection for the Advent and Christmas seasons, Chris Rice’s “Welcome to Our World” was first published in 1995. Our world is troubled by violence and turmoil, even today, which we cannot escape whenever we turn on the TV, open our internet browser, or look at our smartphones. The first stanza alone sets a tone that during Advent we are in a time of darkness, waiting and anticipating the light of the Promised One.
The text in stanza 2, “hope that you don’t mind our manger,” speaks to the above-mentioned issues within our world where there is discord, poverty, and violence, hearkening back to the scene in Luke 2: 7-8 where there is no room at the inn, but only a stable filled with animals and straw, messy just like our world today. Yet amidst these problems our world faces, the last lines of stanza 2 invite the infant Jesus to “make yourself at home, please make yourself at home,” just like the Holy Family made themselves at home in the stable.
Stanza 3 includes a request for Jesus to “bring your peace into our violence, bid our hungry souls be filled,” pleading for an end to the violence, but also food and aid for the hungry among us, especially where poverty is high. Stanza 4 calls for healing, but also speaks to the paradox between Jesus’s birth and eventual death, as it foreshadows why Jesus was sent to earth by God in the first place. Stanza 5 brings Jesus’ life full-circle with a call to holiness and holy living, in which all that we do is given to God’s glory when we repent of our sin and follow Jesus.
While we tend to only hear “Welcome to Our World” on the radio during Christmas, Chris Rice did not have the Christmas story in mind, nor originally intended for “Welcome to Our World” to be a Christmas Song when he composed it. In an interview with CCM Magazine, Rice shares some of the backstory:
[Welcome to Our World] deals with the reality that God invaded our planet and became one of us, which is just astounding to me. I wrote about God coming to our world in a naïve way, knowing that it’s not ours anyway, it’s [God’s]. The thoughts that went through my head were about how tiny [Jesus] was and how He came into the world just like the rest of us do. How much did [Jesus] know at that point? When [Jesus] was human flesh, was He aware at all that He was really God, or did He just accept all the limitations and start from scratch? I thought of that progression, and about the fact that He took on what He did so that we would be able to find God and be found by God.1
As we see in the verses of “Welcome to Our World” and the realities of the world that we live in today with violence, poverty, conflict, economic hardships, and the need for healing, we can see that one of the qualities of Chris Rice’s music is that the lyrics of his music are relatable to real-life situations and to the natural world. Many of Chris Rice’s songs also reflect the many experiences he had in his own life in which “words, science, humor, nature, questions, and faith” are among his “muses” or influences when it comes to his music.2
Chris Rice was raised in Clinton, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, then moved to Tennessee after obtaining a degree in psychology, where he still lives today.3 Upon his move to Tennessee, Chris Rice began playing guitar for youth and college students before signing with Rocketown Records in 1996 with his album, Deep Enough to Dream, then later moved to an independent label, Eb+Flow.4 Much of his music is eclectic in style and in addition to his music, Chris Rice has also branched out into painting and writing, as he also maintains a blog at https://lyricandline.blogspot.com/.
1 Qtd. In Songfacts®. ‘Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice Songfacts’. 2016. Accessed October 12, 2016. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=13647.
2 ‘BIO’. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://chrisrice.com/bio/.
About this Week's Writer
Andrew Davis is pastor of Community UMC, Quincy, CA (www.quincymethodist.org) and one of the chapter leaders of the California-Nevada Chapter of The Fellowship. A native of Sacramento, CA, Andrew spent nine years working in the grocery business before attending Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, where he recently completed his Master of Divinity.
This article is provided as a collaboration between Discipleship Ministries and The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. For more information about The Fellowship, visit UMFellowship.org/Hymns.