A Lesson in Carols

As you scramble through malls and stores to find gifts for all your loved ones, drive to the tree farm to cut down your Christmas tree, decorate sugar cookies with your siblings, and tie bows and garland all over your house, the one thing that accompanies all of these activities is the background buzz of holiday tunes. You hum along to favorites like, “Let It Snow”, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” or my personal favorite, the Mariah Carey classic, “All I Want for Christmas is You.”  I heard many of these favorites and others at a concert I attended this past weekend that ended with Tenth Avenue North singing us through the years with their special, “Decade the Halls.” I love that Christmas music is the only genre that includes every generation since Christ’s birth.


Last week, the staff and faculty here at GCC gathered together for our annual Christmas dinner. When President McNulty addressed this part of the campus community, he wondered at how we can sing lyrics that proclaim such hope for our lives and our futures and not be affected. So often we hear songs like “Joy to the World” or “O Holy Night” and sing along, simply because the lyrics are so familiar to us to the point where we don’t reflect on what we’re actually saying. As we sing about the newborn baby Jesus, we are proclaiming that “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in him tonight.” There is no subject less trivial and that has such powerful implications for the world as this.


There are very strong opinions about how early it is appropriate to start listening to Christmas music. Whatever your opinion, I’m sure you will agree that music is an important part of preparing for Christmas. In the Church, we take four weeks to prepare for Christmas. I am of course referring to the Advent season during which we focus on what Christ’s work on earth accomplished. We talk about hope, love, joy and peace symbolized through the lighting of candles each week, and on Christmas Eve or morning, we light the Christ candle, which reminds us that Jesus Christ came to give us hope, love, joy and peace.


In my personal reflection time this season, I’ve been trying to focus on one of the words each week. I’ve been reading passages in Scripture that have the words hope, love, joy or peace in them. While meditating on these verses and with President McNulty’s reminder to be mindful about the words we proclaim, I have been deeply encouraged by carols that over the years have become commonplace. Giving attention to the depth of their meaning has enriched my understanding of this season. I have been particularly moved by a carol I’m sure you all know. I wanted to share the lyrics with you and encourage you to read them slowly and meditate on the hope, love, joy and peace they afford.


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With th’ angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored:

Christ, the everlasting Lord;

Late in time behold him come,

Offspring of the favored one.

Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see;

Hail, th’incarnate Deity:

Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace!

Hail! the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die:

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”


My prayer for you this season is that you will find Hope in the reality that Christ was, “Born that man no more may die: Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” I pray that you would know in both your head and your heart that a deep well of Love exists for you so much so that the “Offspring of the favored one” was “Pleased, as man, with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!” I pray that you would be filled with Joy so that you will “Join the triumph of the skies” and sing “Glory to the newborn King!” I pray that as you celebrate the coming of this King who renders “God and sinners reconciled,” you would experience the true and everlasting Peace that is yours. In Christ, hope, love, joy and peace are all yours, not only in this season but forever.

, , , , , , , ,

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes