Reflections on Christmas Theology in Song

January 2010

Christmas is such an awesome time of year! We have all heard the ever-dominating “holiday” greetings lately. It is at this time of year the Christian community emphasizes the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas. I whole-heartedly agree, but let’s make sure we take it one step farther. This Christmas season, don’t just remember the term “Christ” in Christmas; be reminded of our great God’s sovereign plan of redemption!

If you’re like me, you sing Christmas songs by rote memory without even reflecting on the lyrics. I must admit that as I have made an effort to ponder our common Christmas song lyrics, I have truly been moved! Think about it.

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is a song that we sing about the birth of our newborn King. “Hark” means listen up! Listen to what? Listen to God’s awesome message declared through the angels. Why is this thing the angels are singing about so important? “Herald” carries the idea of a royal messenger with a ambassadorial proclamation. What is that ambassadorial Divine proclamation? “Glory to the newborn King, Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled…” Reflect on the rest of the song, it’s awesome!

“The First Noel” is a song we sing about the first Christmas (the meaning of the French term “Noel”). Praise God for the first Christmas! We are forever indebted to our great God for His grace and love!

“O Holy Night” is a song retelling the events the night of Jesus’ birth. As you reflect on it’s words, imagine that night when Divinity broke in to humanity! Imagine the Jews who had waited some 400 years for God’s fulfilled promises about a Messiah. After 400 years the silence is broken by a baby’s entrance into the world! Wow! Can you imagine Mary and Joseph? I mean they had already endured undoubtedly much scrutiny regarding their apparent scandalous relationship. Now, they have to travel to Bethlehem (a distance of at least 60-70 miles or more) for a registration process that was necessary for their government’s taxation. Amidst all the inconveniences of travel and the lack of residence or hospitality, Jesus is born. It must have seemed like really bad timing for Mary and Joseph, but it was God’s sovereign, humble, identifying, prophetic, and perfect timing. Imagine the angelic appearance to the lowly shepherds! Imagine the star’s appearance to the wise men (afar off at this point). That night was truly amazing in every sense of the word! “Long lay the world in sin and error pining” (pining meaning a longing or grief). Reflect on this song’s amazing words and theology this Christmas season!

These are only a sampling of 3 common Christmas songs. Ponder the lyrics to all of the Christmas songs and praise our great God for His plan of redemption! One last story I wanted to include below is a link about the last song, “O Holy Night.”

Read the history and awesome account of “O Holy Night” as it was the very first music in history to break the air over radio waves in 1906!