I don’t know of a season more gloriously robed in music than the Christmas season. The sounds of Christmas songs, both sacred and secular, have a way of transporting us, one and all, to the days of our childhood. Mixed with the words of the songs are memories, memories of people and sights and smells and wonder.
Being raised in a Christian family as well as attending a Christian grade school, baby Jesus, the manger, the angels, and the shepherds fill my earliest Christmas memories. I, along with my classmates memorized verses of scripture that we would recite during the pageants of the season; these verses were always recited in between the beloved Christmas carols.
At this time of the year, I deliberately take time to re-read the texts of some of my favorite carols. It is obvious that the writers of many of these songs were also very capable theologians, for the theology of the Incarnation is rich and moving. As I read, I find myself strangely moved by little “one-liners” that powerfully proclaim the wonder behind the Savior’s birth.
“O come, O come Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” From what does Israel need to be ransomed? Satan’s tyranny. Come Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.” Free from what? From fears and sins. Why do angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King?” Because in Him, God and sinners are reconciled. Who is this offspring of the Virgin’s womb? He is God Almighty veiled in flesh. The one line that sends chills through my entire being comes from Silent Night. “Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.” The mystery of the “dawn of redeeming grace” causes me to reel with wonder.
I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. I would however invite you to take some time during this Advent season, to read the wonderful lyrics of the beloved carols that we sing together. Read carefully, read prayerfully, take time to savor each word and each line. As you do, let the Holy Spirit fill you once again with the wonder that came from heaven to earth Once in Royal David’s City.