In The Face Of Darkness, It’s Time To Sing
Of all the traditions at Christmas, perhaps none is more beloved than singing Christmas carols. The challenge we face is allowing the busyness and stress of the season to rob us of the treasures found in these songs. They are so familiar, and our minds can become so preoccupied that we can give them only lip service (literally) and miss their message.
If there was ever a time when the world needed to hear and sing these words with conviction and faith, it is now. In our free ebook, Stewarding Christmas, my daughter Lindsay and I addressed this issue. Here is an excerpt from the book:
Treasures in the Carols
There is a joke in our family about how early various members start listening to Christmas carols. I try to discipline myself to wait for the Monday after Thanksgiving. But there are some in our clan who believe that once the calendar is turned to November 1, it is time to Deck the Halls.
We have a local radio station that plays ‘Christmas’ music non-stop from December 1st to the end of Christmas Day. That’s a lot of hours to fill. So they have reached deep into the holiday songs archives and play, well, some pretty awful stuff. How about these ‘classics’?
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
It’s a Funky, Funky Christmas
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Have a Cheeky Christmas
Ragin, Cajun Redneck Christmas
Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas
And there’s a LOT more. It gets hard to wade through the schlocky clutter to get to songs that inspire, enthrall and endear. But we must.
So many of our most beloved carols are filled with rich meaning and truth. Our challenge is take time this Christmas to listen, really listen to those carols that point you to the manger, the Savior and the love of God. Even better, read the words and be sure to include all verses. Here are some examples of what treasures lie waiting for you in songs you have been singing for years.
From ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’
Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Perhaps nowhere in all Christmas music are the themes of incarnation and the expression of God’s love for us more beautifully expressed. The carol goes on:
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Salvation, resurrection, redemption, new birth, hope and joy…they are all here. And what makes this glad tiding possible is the previous verse where we ‘hail the incarnate deity’. Charles Wesley got it right when he penned this fabulous carol. Sing it this year with a newfound joy.
From ‘Joy to the World’
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
Jesus came for the whole world…everyone. For the Christmas haters, God-deniers, and all those sinners just like us. He came for us, all of us. And at Christmas we look into the darkness of a world spinning out of control and sing with faith and conviction that in the manger of Bethlehem, the earth has received her king! That is a powerful proclamation and we should sing it as such. But it goes on and calls ‘every heart’ to prepare room to receive Him. Every heart! Everyone! This is the ultimate evangelism proclamation. Sing it as such. And finally, both heaven and nature will sing. Not just people, not just angels and archangels, but nature sings! How amazing is that. In the second verse we sing that, ‘rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.’ When we sing this carol this Christmas we are proclaiming God’s rule over all creation, and Jesus’ work of redeeming all creation. Together we all sing, Joy to the World, the Lord is come’! Joy indeed!
From ‘Silent Night’
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Are you starting to see the riches that lie deep in these wonderful carols? Here’s one more. The babe of Bethlehem is proclaimed as both ‘Son of God’ and as ‘love’s pure light.’ Jesus is love in its most pure form, and we know that because of the Incarnation, because of the manger, because of Christmas. But look further, for the last phrase sums up all of Christmas. Jesus was ‘lord at Thy birth.’ Unbelievable and life-changing! While swaddled in a hay trough, this little, humble and very human child was already the King of Kings and Lord of Lords we sing about in the Hallelujah Chorus. If you can go to the manger and see there your Lord, your King, your Savior and your Redeemer, you will experience the wonder and meaning of Christmas.
Stewarding Christmas means not getting so lost in the busyness that you miss the simple, powerful reminders of the reason for it all. I encourage you to sit with your family, read through your favorite Christmas carols and talk about what you hear. By taking the time to really listen to the words of ‘O, Holy Night’, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘What Child is This?’ and so many others, you will be blessed.