Yes, I like Christmas songs, but I don’t like all of them. And my dislike often has to do with one thing – what they teach.
The birth of Jesus doesn’t take up a whole lot of territory in the gospels. Not including the veiled references of unbelievers, John basically uses one verse (John 1:14), Luke uses less than three “chapters”, if you count the announcement to Mary and the genealogy tree, to go more in-depth including the angelic announcement to the shepherds in the field (Luke 1-3), and Matthew uses two “chapters” to cover more genealogy, the announcement to Joseph and the gift-giving wise-men account (Matthew 2:1-2).
The biblical account of Jesus’ birth, and its surrounding events, are fairly easy to understand … unless, for some reason, you’re a “Christmas” song.
Many Christmas songs help to promote biblical ignorance by combining Luke’s account of the shepherds, who actually visit Bethlehem the night Jesus is born, and Matthew’s account of the wise-men, who first visit Jerusalem (after the birth of Jesus takes place) and then later present their gifts after finding Jesus in a house, into one mismatched scene.
The simple fact is, whether one tries to sing it or not, the shepherds didn’t have to make room for the wise-men that exciting night in Bethlehem. To some people this may not seem like a big-deal, but truth be told – the truth of Jesus’ birth can’t be told with many “Christmas” songs, and that’s what I don’t like about them.
I don’t know about you, but I like “Christmas” songs.
I can’t say I like every song, or even most songs that fall into the “Christmas” category, but some of my favorite songs just happen to be songs that are labeled as “Christmas” songs.
I don’t like listening to all of the pop-stars singing to make a buck with their latest “Christmas” album. I may be wrong, but judging by the albums released before and after the nicey-nice holiday studio cut, I don’t think the vast majority of the famous singers really care about the message that surrounds the average “Christmas” album.
I like singing several songs while I’m alone and while I’m with others. Silent Night, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, and O Come All Ye Faithful are songs worth singing. They remind us of an important message (1 Timothy 3:16).
Whether the calendar says it’s December or July, I like singing these songs because they do my heart good, and I hope they do you good as well.
I’m not saying you have to like “Christmas” songs … I’m just saying that I do.
“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:2 – NKJV)
By the way, if you want to watch one of my favorite video and song combos, you can click here.
I suppose every Christian has memorized Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, right? We all know we are to sing as a past of the worship service, and to do so without the use of mechanical music. That is a given … I hope.
But, have you also memorized James 4:10 and I Peter 5:6? What do these two verses have to do with the first paragraph? Well, think about it. I have heard many say, “I don’t sing because my voice is bad,” or “I don’t sing because I can’t carry a tune,” or maybe even, “I don’t want to torture those in front of me.” Yes, I have actually heard all of these … excuses. They are excuses, not reasons.
Now look at I John 2:16. (I am not quoting these five verses because I want you to be sure I am using them correctly.) Pride is a common sin, also maybe known as “the pride of life.” I don’t think I know anyone who has never had pride as a sin. So think about it. God said sing. He never said you had to have a beautiful voice. He never said the song service had to sound like a professional choir. No! God said sing. Of course, we want to offer God our very best. No question there. But if my very best voice is a rough croak, and I am singing from the heart because I want to please God—not myself nor my fellow Christians—then my voice is pleasing to God. Isn’t that what really matters?
What say ye?
Over on QBT, I wrote how a bad habit in nomenclature ignores the horizontal element in singing, toward one’s brethren, in order to focus solely on the vertical element, toward God. This manifestation reinforces the conclusion that popular religion feeds selfishness.
Most Brazilian religious songs, among evangelicals, anyway, speak of the individual, rather than the group. Perhaps, in part, it is a linguistic problem, since the former requires fewer syllables. But it adds evidence to the tendency of selfishness in popular Brazilian religion. Continue reading
Seems that hymnology has gotten complicated. Many songs are hard for new people to pick up on. Continue reading
Parents, what are you doing to help your children engage in singing when it comes to the worship services of the church? Here are a few tips to accomplish this goal:
- Sitting a young child in your lap and using your finger to show them the words that you are singing is a great way to teach your children word association (i.e. helping them learn to read) by engaging their eyes with the words and melody of the song.
- Explain to them the meaning of some of the more complex and deeper meaning words that may be used within a song. This will help to engage their thought process which helps to avoid the emptiness of repetition when it comes to a song that they are familiar with (think “Jesus Loves Me” for example).
- Help them to concentrate by limiting distractions. Many young children, like adults who need to work on their short attention spans, may not be able to understand the point of preaching yet, but singing is something that most children quickly take to when they understand or catch on to the melody.
At the end of the day, parents have a responsibility to teach their child how to worship by example and by instruction. And one area of emphasis, which can be done with the right amount of effort, should be the singing that we offer to God. Singing is something that is delightful to our Creator and it is something that his worshipers should find delight in doing (Hebrews 13:15).
So when we show our children how much singing in worship means to us, it will mean something to them, and then later they will understand what it means to God, but only if we strive to engage them in it.
Why do people listen to what God says at first, but not last? “Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2 NKJV). We may approach God through the voice music of “singing.” But David added to this: “Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets” (1 Chronicles 13:8 NKJV). God said “Woe” to those: “Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David” (Amos 6:5 NKJV). Today, Christians should be “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19 NKJV). The churches of Christ don’t use David’s instruments, but our God-given hearts for singing.
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.