The Songs of the Season
Christmas season is in full swing! I don’t know about you, but I just love this season. I think the thing I love most about it is the music. Year after year, I have the experience – at least once – of being in a Lowe’s or Target or whatever, and hearing a line like “Let Earth receive her King, Let every heart prepare Him room” over the store’s sound system.
You don’t get those kind of lyrics in January or July!
I’m not a very emotional person, but when I hear lines like that – even at Foodtown – I tend to well up with gratitude and with worship. We’ve heard these classic Christmas hymns so much that, sometimes, we miss their explosive lyrics. Look at some of what we sing during Christmas time:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth”
“Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace”
“Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.”
“Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
“Born that man no more may die”
“The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight”
You just don’t get those kind of lyrics during the rest of the year! Deep theological truth, met with brilliant language, and the real-life implications of what Christmas means for us.
When we hear O Holy Night, we are meant to remember the times in our lives when we felt insignificant, or when if feels like we don’t matter to anyone (including God) – and be reminded that Christ appeared to save us – and in that moment, our “soul felt its (infinite) worth”.
When we hear Silent Night, we are invited to remember the darkness that surrounded our lives – and that this world still lives in to some degree – and be reminded how the birth of Christ is the dawn of a new day, the dawning of a bright light that shatters every darkness. The same can be said of O Come O Come Emmanuel, and in fact, most Christmas songs!
When we hear Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, we’re meant to remember that Christmas is the beginning of the journey towards the cross and resurrection…that God was born in human flesh in order to reconcile us to Himself, so that we “no more may die”. THAT is some news. We lose that amidst the tinsel and commercials.
When we hear O Little Town of Bethlehem, we’re meant to be comforted with the fact that in the birth of Jesus, every single one of our fears has been quelled in him, because they have been “met in thee tonight” with a greater reason for hope.
So I want to encourage you – if you’re someone who is “into” music:
reconnect with these classic Christmas hymns this season. They are theologically rich, surprisingly bold and beautiful, and deeply reassuring.
There’s a good chance you know where to go for these classic Christmas hymns, but if you’re looking for some ‘new’ takes on them, here’s some suggestions (and some of my personal faves…I know that some of them might not be for everyone!!!):
– The New Ancients – Christmas albums (this was the ‘band’ from my old church…some of my all-time favorite renditions of these songs!)
– John Van Deusen – “In the Bleak Midwinter”
– Paul Zach – “Christmas Hymns”
– The Porter’s Gate – “Advent Songs” (original Advent songs)
– Sufjan Stevens – Christmas albums (both weird, weirdly beautiful, and weirdly other!)
– Weezer – “Christmas with Weezer” (it’s actually really good!)
– Bad Religion – “Christmas Songs” (aren’t you in the mood for a punk rock Christmas, especially from a notoriously anti-religious band?!?)
I hope that you’re able to share in my love for these Christmas songs as well, and in my deep enjoyment of this season because of it.
(Tidings of) Comfort & Joy,