I like Christmas music. The music is one of my favorite parts of this time of year. Just like all good movies have killer sound tracks, it isn’t really Christmas without those heart-warming songs. But there are a few things that make me sad about Christmas music:

  1. Folks who work retail are sick of it by mid-December.
  2. The growing emphasis seems to be on the more secular songs that have nothing to do with the holiday (by which I mean the “holy-day”).
  3. It’s awkward to sing Christmas hymns any other time of the year in our worship services.
I want to focus on number 3 for a few blog posts leading up to Christmas. I don’t know about you, but in my religious tribe and upbringing, Christmas was met with a certain level of taboo. Most families celebrated it, but as a church we never really did. Some families didn’t celebrate ANY holidays, which is fine… But the church didn’t emphasize Christmas in order to avoid offending those families, or in order to appear as non-Catholic as possible.
So we didn’t really sing Christmas hymns a whole lot during the holiday season, and we didn’t sing them the rest of the year. They became sort of the black sheep of the song book.
This is a shame. Really, it is. Because some of these Christmas hymns contain the highest Christology in our song books. They don’t focus just on the birth of Christ, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay, like Ricky Bobby imagines. These songs emphasize the preexistent Christ, the Word who became flesh, the sovereign reign of God through Christ over all creation.
Let’s take a look at one: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
“Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!”
  • Through Jesus, God was ushering in his shalom, his peace, his wholeness to creation once again. Through Jesus we have been reconciled to God, brought back into a state of pure relationship with the Father.
“Joyful, all ye nations rise; join the triumph of the skies”
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Through Abraham’s seed, Jesus, all nations of the earth will be blessed. Jesus is the messiah not just for Israel but for all humanity.
“Veiled in flesh the God-head see; hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel”
  • God had tried everything – communing with man in the garden, calling out one family to save humanity, choosing one man through whom all nations would be blessed. He tried calling out one nation, giving them his law, dwelling with them in his Temple, removing sins through animal sacrifices. Nothing worked. Finally, he pulled out all the stops. God himself became a man and pitched his tent along with us. This was the only way to bring true reconciliation to humanity. God with us.
“Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”
  • Jesus was born once so that we might be born twice. Just as he was born as the incarnate Son of God, so we are re-born as adopted sons of God with his Spirit dwelling in us.
Sure, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is a “Christmas” song, but it’s more than that. It’s a Christ song, proclaiming a higher view of Christ than most songs we sing.
Maybe we don’t need more Christmas songs; maybe we need more Christ songs.
Like this one:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:15-20