The World and Everything in It — December 11, 2020


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Elections have consequences and today on Culture Friday, we’ll talk about one of them: the incoming Biden administration’s top abortion policymaker who last year led a legal effort to fight the current one.

NICK EICHER, HOST: John Stonestreet will join us.

Also today Megan Basham reviews a Netflix film that re-evaluates Hollywood through the eyes of a famous screenwriter.

Plus, we’ll visit a picturesque Swiss town that is pretty serious about its cows.

And we’ll end with the music of Advent.

BROWN: It’s Friday, December 11th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.


KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: FDA advisory panel endorses coronavirus vaccine » AUDIO: Dr. Worton votes yes.

A group of FDA advisers gave the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine the thumbs up on Thursday.

AUDIO: And that concludes the vote. So we do have a favorable vote.   

The panel voted 17-to-4 to endorse it for emergency use. 

The advisory panel said the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for people age 16 and up. 

That’s not the final word. Officials at the Food and Drug Administration still have to sign off on the emergency use authorization. But the vote brings the vaccine one step away from a green light and makes approval all the more likely. 

Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the FDA acts on the committee’s recommendation.

Biden taps several more former Obama officials for key posts » President-elect Joe Biden is naming several more former Obama administration officials to key positions. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Biden has named Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. That will give her broad sway over the administration’s approach to immigration, healthcare, and other issues. 

Rice served as President Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador. 

Her new position will not require Senate confirmation. Republicans would strongly oppose Rice over her role in the Benghazi scandal. 

Biden is also nominating Obama’s former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Tom Vilsack will be his nominee for agriculture secretary. Vilsack filled that same role during Obama’s two terms.

He’s also tapping Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Katherine Tai for U.S. trade representative.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

China imposes Hong Kong travel restrictions on U.S. officials » China is striking back at the United States over recent sanctions. The Chinese government is hitting some U.S. officials and others with new Hong Kong travel restrictions. 

That follows the Trump administration’s announcement of new penalties against some Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on liberties in Hong Kong. 

Americans with diplomatic passports visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer receive visa-free entry privileges.

The new rules will apply to U.S. administration officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organizations, and immediate family members.

Morocco to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel » Morocco has agreed to become the fourth Arab nation in four months to forge diplomatic ties with Israel. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Trump announced the agreement on Thursday. As part of the deal, the United States will recognize Morocco’s claim over the disputed Western Sahara region. 

Israel will open a liaison office in Rabat and Morocco will do the same in Tel Aviv, with the goal of eventually opening embassies. 

The countries will also establish joint overflight rights for airlines. Morocco follows the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan in forming ties with Israel.

 U.S. officials say they’re also pushing for a deal with Saudi Arabia.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

UK, EU brace for Jan. 1 trade divorce » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Thursday that there’s a “strong possibility” trade talks with the European Union will fail. 

That could prove very costly for both sides. 

The U.K. exited the EU in January. The country’s trade arrangement with the bloc, however, remains in place till the end of this year. But that, of course, is only three weeks away. 

A sudden exit from the trade pact would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and cost tens of billions of dollars in commerce.

U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told reporters…

RAAB: We would like a free trade deal with the EU, but we’re not going to sacrifice the basic points of democratic principle – on fisheries, on control of our laws as we leave the transition period.  And I think it’s important that that’s recognized on the EU side, and if they do, I think the scope for a deal is still there to be done. 

But neither side sounds optimistic and both have told their citizens to brace for a New Year’s shock. 

To prepare for a Jan. 1st exit, the EU on Thursday put four backup measures on the table. The proposals are designed to ensure that at least air and road traffic would continue as smoothly as possible between both sides for the next six months.

It also proposed that fishermen should still have access to each other’s waters for up to a year. The U.K. has yet to agree to those measures.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: the Biden administration’s pro-abortion push.

Plus, a visit to the Swiss Alps.

This is The World and Everything in It.


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, December 11th, 2020.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Meet your new HHS secretary, Xavier Becerra.

BECERRA: I am proud to have this chance to implement the president-elect’s vision for a better America through the challenging assignments that are in store for the Department of Health and Human Services.

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra would take that key cabinet-level position in a Biden Administration.

Becerra’s a former congressman from California who earned the distinction of a 100 percent congressional voting record from the National Abortion Rights Action League.

He’s currently attorney general of California and last year, when the current HHS secretary rolled out a rule aimed at discouraging abortion, Becerra fought against it. 

He filed suit to block an effort to prevent family planning clinics from using so-called Title X funding to refer women for abortions.

BECERRA: The new Title X rule, something many of us called a gag rule, released by the White House last week makes it harder, not easier, for women to access the care that they need. This rule gags our doctors, nurses, and other care providers from fully discussing reproductive health with their patients, and it bans doctors from referring patients for abortion. When doctors are gagged and women are denied care, it’s dangerous not just for them, but for their families. Make no mistake, this is a systematic effort by this administration to end access to birth control and safe, legal abortion. The rule will interfere with the practice of medicine and will result in clinics going out of business due to financial strain. That’s why today we are filing suit against the Trump administration yet again for this unlawful harmful rule.

And so he’s on the brink of having the power to undo that Title X rule and put your tax dollars back into the service of promoting abortion.

BROWN: One more thing about Xavier Becerra. 

Right now, his office is prosecuting David Deleiden. He’s the pro-life activist who went undercover to catch Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling body parts from abortions … and famously released those tapes several years ago.

Instead of pursuing the evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, Becerra filed charges against Deleiden for illegally recording their conversations. 

Interestingly, Becerra follows Kamala Harris in the job of California attorney general. She’s the one who began the investigation of Deleiden, which included a raid of his home. 

Becerra picked up where she left off.

EICHER: Yes, and David Deleiden’s trial is pending.

Joining us now to talk about this is John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of Breakpoint podcast.

Good morning, John.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.

EICHER: Elections have consequences, don’t they?

STONESTREET: It’s important to remember two things: Number one, abortion is a thoroughly integrated reality of the American political scene. It’s at every level. It’s at the federal level. It’s at the executive branch. It’s in the judicial branch. It’s in the legislative branch. And it’s also at the state level and even the county and community level, especially in places like California. In other words, it’s so deeply ingrained.

The other thing to remember is that the Democratic Party, in particular, has moved on abortion. In other words, it’s no longer safe, legal, and rare, a necessary evil that we need to protect the health of women. That’s still part of the talking points, but there’s an aggressiveness to this. And we see this both in what you described from Kamala Harris and what you described from Becerra, both of them in their roles as AG of California. 

There are a lot of undercover investigative stings that neither of them chose to pursue. Technically speaking, filming without consent is the breaking of a law, unless you’re uncovering something that’s really, really bad. And so, for example, restaurants breaking health regulations or puppy mills or dog fighting rings or whatever else. In these things, the good guys are really clear and the bad guys are also really clear in the minds of both of these attorneys general. It’s different here. There’s an aggressive advancement of a pro-abortion agenda that is now part of Democratic politics at almost every level. Again, abortion exists at almost every level of policy in the political scene. And, on the Democratic side, it’s not just something to be tolerated. It is an active thing to be advanced and promoted.

EICHER: You mentioned aggressive, and it’s interesting to me that Biden selected Becerra for this post. We hear a lot about how Biden’s a moderate, he’s a devout Catholic. But when it comes to Health and Human Services, certainly deeply involved in setting abortion policy, Biden goes with a deeply committed, pro-abortion ideologue.

STONESTREET: Well, I mean, look, we shouldn’t have such short memories. HHS was the department in which the Obama administration tried to force nuns to buy contraception and abortion-inducing medication.

And, of course, I mean, look, I don’t want to make this purely political. We’re going to remember quickly that there were two agenda items that were driving almost all of our domestic and foreign policies under the Obama administration. One was abortion and even more than that was the LGBT agenda. And the Department of HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services, was a key wedge, it was a key weapon to advance those things. 

I think maybe we kind of forgot. And I remember in 2016 when the administration changed, the words that many of us used—me included—was, look, this is a reprieve. This isn’t over. And the very real possibility is that this will — the pendulum swing will come back the other direction and it’ll be further and faster and harder than ever. And the punting of this new administration to basically be, at some level, an Obama administration 2.0 is troubling, very troubling if you remember what the second term of the Obama administration was all about. I don’t know if I should actually say this out loud, but this is one of the things I think historians are going to judge this administration for because we’re talking about President Obama, who was the first African-American president, which is a remarkable thing. A remarkable thing that meant so much to so many, and he spent all of his political capital in especially the second term of his administration in domestic policy and in foreign policy pushing the new sexual orthodoxy and promoting the LGBTQ agenda. I think history will judge him, ultimately, for that.

BROWN: As Nick said earlier John, elections have consequences and don’t we know it here in Georgia! 

In just weeks we’ll cast votes for two Senate runoff races.  

And I want to talk about one of the candidates, Rev. Raphael Warnock, he’s one of the democratic contenders for the U.S. Senate seat. He’s also the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored. 

What’s ironic to me is Dr. King wrote in 1967, The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.

Powerful words. But Warnock says up front, proudly, and he said it again this week, “I am a pro-choice pastor.”

And the support he’s getting, my question is are we there yet? Have we lost Dr. King’s notion of prophetic zeal? 

And if so, how do we reclaim it?

STONESTREET: I think the answer is yes. I’m a little jaded here in Colorado having watched the church refuse to be the conscience of the state when it comes to legalized marijuana, when it comes to certainly doctor-assisted suicide, when it comes to a late-term abortion ban that was defeated pretty handedly in this last election. We don’t have an evangelical church — I mean, I do think there’s an irony here that somebody who sits in that particular pulpit that was about justice is holding on to a position on abortion that is just unjustifiable historically speaking at least in terms of historic Christianity. 

But I’m much more concerned right now that the church in general—especially the evangelical church in general—is refusing to take on any prophetic mantle when it comes to the social issues of the culture. In other words, there’s a morally prophetic absence when it comes to helping their own members make personal, moral decisions. If we’re not able to do that, we’re not able to have any sort of culturally prophetic role that the church should have. And when the church is at its best, it does have.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

BROWN: Thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thanks so much.


NICK EICHER, HOST: Working in radio, one of our biggest challenges is figuring out how to pronounce things correctly. And there are times, we must admit, when we get it wrong. But at least we’re not alone!

The U.S. Captioning company, which captions and subtitles real-time events on TV just released a list of this year’s most mispronounced words and names.

Shockingly the ubiquitous face of Dr. Anthony Fauci came up. How do you get that wrong? We had so much practice, and we’re probably not done practicing.

Here’s another: Kamala Harris. Some people say Kuh-MAHL-uh. It’s KAH-mah-luh. Again, I expect we’ll get some practice.

But speaking of practice—something pro basketball players do—practice, I’m talking about practice. Not the game. Practice.

Anyway, here goes. The MVP of the NBA. This name gets mispronounced.

Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Here is hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal with the young superstar on TNT trying to say his name.

CLIP: Yannis Ah-tun-kuh-numbo. That’s close enough. That’s kind of in the ballpark. Is that right my brother? No, Shaq.

Also on the list, Hurricane Isaias. We might have gotten that one wrong ourselves. 

And finally, a mainstay on this list: the state of  Nevada. That is Nehv-ADD-ah, not Nuh-VAHD-uh. 

And this is The World and Everything in It.


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, December 11th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we are so glad you are! 

Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Megan Basham reviews a new movie about Old Hollywood.

MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: Film historians may have yet to solve the mystery of exactly who or what “Rosebud” was in Orson Welles’ movie—some would say the greatest movie of all time—Citizen Kane. But Netflix’s new drama, Mank, pulls the curtain back on just about every other secret surrounding the famous production.

The Mank in question is Golden Age screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman in yet another Oscar-worthy performance.

CLIP: Pops, this is Herman Mankiewicz but we’re to call him Mank. Herman Mankiewicz, New York playwright and drama critic? Turned humble screenwriter, Mr. Hearst. Why, no need to be humble Mr. Mankiewicz, pictures will talk in the future. They’re going to need people who honor words to give them a voice. There’s a golden age coming when all the world will be a stage, and you perhaps, their Shakespeare.

A degenerate gambler and drunk, Mank has skated through his career, barely skimming the surface of the deep reservoir of writing talent he possesses. Most of the time he’s content to pitch pseudo-intellectual dreck to studio heads too much the philistines to recognize it for what it is.

CLIP: Tell him about the finale, Charlie. Oh. Well, the rain turns to sleet, puts out the fire, and entombs the monster in solid ice while nearby an old priest weeps. Hmm. A weeping priest. Thunder, lightning, blood, religion. All in one film? And with an unseasonable thaw, a sequel. I thought you said this was about something, this was different. Plus, the ominous futility of man playing God. The Faustian bargain of life everlasting. The triumph of the human spirit over the beast incarnate in our far-too-solid flesh. That’s director-proof.

Eventually, a political vendetta against newspaper baron Howard Hearst drives Mank to team up with 24-year-old virtuoso, Orson Welles, to write the first draft of Citizen Kane.

The film’s skewering of Hollywood ethics—or lack of them—is good fun that comes with fewer expletives than you might expect from the R rating.

CLIP: My boy, there are three work rules at this studio. Rule number one, ars gratia artis. Art for art’s sake. How you doing. One million dollars a year we spend on stories we never even film. Why not? I’ll tell you, they don’t make me cry…Rule number two. You may have heard MGM has more stars than the heavens. Do not believe this. We have only one star. That is Leo the Lion. Never forget that. Many stars have, and now they twinkle elsewhere.

The film is refreshingly free of all other R content. Self-consciously stylish and stylized, the black and white production immerses the viewer in the feeling of the era, not just through the pre-war musical score and affected accents, but through a never-ending, rapid fire exchange of witticisms.

CLIP: You fractured Wally Beery’s wrist Indian wrestling. Boy was he surprised you’re stronger than you look. And from what I remember, you’re smarter. That was a compliment. See what I mean? That was interesting. I need a favor but you’re going to have to promise you won’t laugh. Given the state of the world, a tall order.

How many sparkling one-liners fill Mank? Enough that I eventually had to quit noting them down for potential use in this review.

The strongest parts of the film—the beginning and end—offer a parable about the creative process. We get hints that it isn’t so much the drinking and all around lousy living that plague Mank, it’s his knowledge that he’s squandering his talent on easy money, his time churning out hits that will mostly be forgotten.

Unfortunately, director David Fincher turns his attention away from this compelling character study to push a political agenda that seems to have less to do with Mank than Fincher.

CLIP: Too often sir, the religion of Jesus is used by the ruling classes to keep themselves in power and the poor ever poorer. And that my friends is a sin and an error.

The movie clearly sides with novelist and gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair (and an increasing number of politicians and pastors today) that Jesus held socialist sympathies. It’s a bit ironic that the film, which so hails Mank’s stubborn refusal to offer uncritical support to any political movement, doesn’t look more closely at how conveniently its themes align with prevailing opinion in today’s Tinsel Town.

It’s also curious how even tales of Hollywood corruption feature GOP power-mongers at their center. But Fincher does at least give the protagonist a smart and thoughtful Republican to tangle with.

CLIP: I know what I am Mank. When I come to work I don’t consider it slumming. I don’t use humor to keep myself above the fray. And I always go to the mat for what I believe in. I haven’t the time to do otherwise. But you, sir, how formidable people like you might be if they actually gave at the office.

What was brilliant about Mank’s script for Citizen Kane is how it peeled away the layers to show us the deeper needs of the man behind the politics and corruption. It’s a shame David Fincher didn’t follow his character’s lead.

I’m Megan Basham.


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: One famous cheese brand features a grinning cow. But in Switzerland, cows and cheese are no laughing matter. They’re serious business!

NICK EICHER, HOST: Every fall, ten thousand tourists usually arrive in the village of Charmey for the parade of cows. Like so many other things this year, the public celebration was cancelled. But, the cows still needed to come home.

WORLD correspondent Jenny Lind Schmitt was there and brings us this story.

MUSIC: [ALPHORN ENSEMBLE]

JENNY LIND SCHMITT, CORRESPONDENT:  The first snow fell this morning on the high mountain pastures above Charmey. Winter is on its way to the region of Gruyère, and it’s time for the Désalpe, the annual Swiss festival of the descent of the cows. 

Every spring Swiss farmers take their herds of milk cows up to communal grazing land on the mountainsides of the Alps. The word for those pastures in both French and German is, in fact, “alp”—and it’s believed that those pastures gave the mountain range its name.

Farming families spend the summer months on the alp in rustic chalets. They care for their animals and make creamy Gruyere and Vacherin cheeses from their milk. Then, after four months of grazing on lush grass and herbs, it’s time to bring the cows back down to the valley for the winter. 

Over generations, the descent became an elaborate celebration of heritage and tradition. 

ANDREY: [SPEAKING TO DESALPE ATTENDEES IN FRENCH]

Pascal Andrey is the event’s official announcer. He explains traditions to visitors and tells about the herds passing by. This is his 40th Desalpe. His face is lined and reddened from living outdoors. He wears the traditional costume of alpine shepherds: sky-blue button down shirt, and a gray jacket embroidered with edelweiss, the white star-shaped flowers that only grow above 6,000 feet.

This year, instead of several thousand people lining the road to watch, there are just a couple hundred. So Andrey describes the festivities for a live broadcast for Swiss at home. 

ANDREY: Le jour de désalpe c’est surtout la fête des armaillis, les gens des montagnes, et puis le retour à la ferme en plaine, après 4 mois passés sur un alpage. C’est un jour de fête, un jour de plaisir, on retourne, on reprend la vie normale, avec un peu plus de confort, c’est particulier… C’est la récompense de toute une saison de beaucoup de travail. 

TRANSLATION: The Desalpe is most of all the celebration of the armaillis, the mountain cowherds and shepherds. It’s also the return to the farm in the valley, after four months on the Alp. It’s a day of joy and satisfaction. You’re returning home to normal life, with a little more comfort. It’s special. And it’s also the reward for a long season of hard work.

It may be a celebration for the shepherds, but the cows are the stars of the show. The farmers wake before dawn to pressure wash each of the twelve hundred pound animals. 

Then they decorate them. Each bovine gets an elaborate headdress, made of pine branches, ferns, berries, and colorful flowers. Some of the best milk cows have crowns 2 feet high!

AUDIO: [CHOIR AND PARADE]

Each one wears a cowbell. Bells were originally used to help farmers find animals over huge areas of mountainous terrain. Now, in the days of GPS markers and helicopters, most farmers keep small cowbells on their herd for the sake of tradition.  

But these enormous bells are for special occasions. Many have been passed down for generations. The largest weigh over 12 pounds and have a year embroidered on the yoke—marking occasions like weddings, anniversaries or an especially good milk year. The oldest and best milkers get the biggest bells and lead the way.

It’s only 10 in the morning, but the herds have already made the 7 mile descent from the pasture. As they enter the village, the road climbs. Andrey says it’s intentional so that the cows’ effort makes the bells ring louder. As they pass, you can hear the difference in the bell sizes in the way they ring. 

First come the big bells. 

AUDIO: [BIG BELLS]

Then the middle sized.

AUDIO: [MEDIUM BELLS]

Then the small bells. 

AUDIO: [SMALL BELLS]

And last of all, tiny bells on the goats. 

AUDIO: [GOATBELLS]

Farmers dressed in traditional garb walk with their herds, whooping them onward. One gives a cow a prod with his wooden staff when she gets too curious about a spectator and wanders off the road. 

AUDIO: [SMALL BELLS, MOO]

A toddler rides on his father’s shoulders. A group of adolescent shepherd boys and girls also walk dressed in traditional costume, practicing their cow calls—a look of collective pride on their faces. Finally, a horse-drawn wagon filled with traditional cheesemaking gear and the smallest family members brings up the rear. 

ANDREY: [DESCRIBING BREEDS IN FRENCH]

Pascal Andrey knows each of the families and their herds by name. As they walk by he points out traits of various breeds. 

In his own chalet, Andrey produced over 12,000 pounds of cheese this year. He says he’s fairly sure he could recognize his farm’s cheese among others by taste alone. 

AUDIO: [ALPHORN MUSIC]

Near the parade route, an Alphorn ensemble begins to play. The wooden horns stretch 12 feet from each player’s mouth to where the instrument’s opening rests on the grass. 

It would all seem touristic, except that this year, the crowds aren’t here. Along the parade route are mostly locals, who say they came out to support the farmers in this strange year. This man says it’s important to remember the region’s identity. 

ATTENDEE: Pour soutenir toutes ses traditions. C’est traditions c’est nous. On est né là-dedans, on est avancé là-dedans, c’est ce qui nous fait grandir.

TRANSLATION: I came to support all these traditions. These traditions are us. We’re born into them, we’re formed by them. They’re our upbringing.

AUDIO: [CHOIR]

Andrey is optimistic events like this will continue as young people return to farming, and society moves to support local agriculture. That attracts visitors to the Desalpe. Even though some farming methods have changed and the traditional costumes are just for today, people know that the work being celebrated is real. 

ANDREY:  …on est dans le vrai de vrai.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jenny Lind Schmitt in Charmey, Switzerland.


One of our traditions here at WORLD is our end-of-year giving drive. 

Now, this tradition is not about preserving a culture, per se, but primarily about ensuring the future.

When you give, I think you’re doing two things: you honor the diligent work of biblically sound reporting and you help to make sure it continues. 

This my third year as a WORLD correspondent, but I’ve read WORLD for years, going back to my time as a homeschool mom. 

When I discovered this program, it eventually led me to the World Journalism Institute mid-career course and that preparation led me here—where I’ve had the privilege of bringing you stories from Europe.

Would you take a moment and support our December Giving Drive today? It doesn’t matter if you ring a small bell, a medium-sized bell, or the biggest of them all: everything adds up to more of the journalism you’ve come to trust.

Just visit wng.org/donate and thanks for ringing the bell. Wng.org/donate.

Thanks!


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, December 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. The enduring nature of many hymns grows out of the biblically sound text. Bonnie Pritchett introduces us to one such hymn in this third installment of our Music of Advent series.

BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: According to church tradition, Ambrose of Milan wrote the hymn “Savior of the Nations, Come” in the late 4th century to refute Arianism—the heresy that denied the deity of Jesus. Sixteen hundred years later, Christians still sing the hymn that proclaims Jesus is God incarnate.

Ambrose promoted antiphonal singing in the church. That’s how his congregation would have chanted:

Savior of the nations, come, 

Virgin’s Son, make here thy home!

Marvel now, O heav’n and earth,

That the Lord chose such a birth.”

By the 6th century Gregorian chants were an integral part of church worship. 

In 2000, the Monks of the Abbey Rouen included the Latin hymn in their album “Gregorian Chants and Meditations.”

VENI, REDEMPTOR GENTIUM: [MONKS OF THE ABBEY ROUEN]

In 1523, when the Church was again battling for Biblical orthodoxy, Martin Luther translated the hymn from Latin to German. Luther’s friend Johann Walther slightly edited the text to fit a new tune, published in 1525.

NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND, BWV 61: [BACH COLLEGIUM JAPAN CHORUS]

The hymn continued to inspire musicians, including Johann Sebastian Bach. His Cantata 61 premiered on the first Sunday of Advent 1714. Here the Bach Collegium Japan Chorus performs—in German—their 2010 rendition of the still popular cantata.

NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND, BWV 61: [BACH COLLEGIUM JAPAN CHORUS]

American William Reynolds translated the hymn from German to English in 1851. A Wisconsin band called Koiné used that translation on their 2012 album Emmanuel Lux

While Luther and Reynolds remained faithful to Ambrose’s original text, musicians from Milan to Milwaukee have added their unique interpretation to the ancient hymn. The music has changed. But the ageless truth of Ambrose’s hymn has not:

SAVIORS OF THE NATIONS, COME: [KOINE]

LYRICS: Not by human flesh and blood by the Spirit of our God was the Word of God made flesh. Woman’s offspring pure and fresh…

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett

SAVIORS OF THE NATIONS, COME: [KOINE]

LYRICS: Praise to God the Father sing. Praise to God the son of kings. Praise to God the Spirit be ever and eternally…Come. Savior come…


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Well it takes many people to put this program together each morning. So we want to say thanks to: Megan Basham, Anna Johansen Brown, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Steve West.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Nightowls Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Paul Butler is executive producer, and Marvin Olasky is editor in chief. 

Of course, none of this happens without you. This is our December Giving Drive and I hope you’ll beat the rush and make your gift today at wng.org/donate.

In the Gospel According to John, Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

I hope you have a restful weekend, and worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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