Around the world, fathers, mothers, and children of all ages and generations will gather in homes, hotels, and huts to celebrate the joy of Christmas.
Around the tree, people from all walks of life will stop their endless walking – if only for a few, sacred moments – to be together.
Around the corner there will be those who listen to the sounds of these gatherings, some reminiscing of bygone days when they too had a place to celebrate with those they loved. Others will marvel with childlike wonder at the message they are hearing – is this simply holiday sentiment, or is there truly a holy Saviour who has come to rescue us?
The story of Jesus's birth will be told and retold in many different languages and cultures this Christmas, but there is something miraculous about the divine narrative that produces the same effect in each of us, no matter how or where it is revealed. In fact, there is even one particular medium that brings all people together around the central essence of this incredible story – Christmas carols. From Australia to Argentina to Anchorage, the message of Jesus will resonate from the mouths of his people in the same melodies and lyrics that his people have been singing for centuries.
Though there are many, here are five reasons we should still sing Christmas carols today.
1. The carols are the best opportunity to sing
From the gentle hum of a mother's comforting voice to the boisterous halls of the world's grandest cathedral, singing is something we were literally created to by God to do. Perhaps this is why there are at least 50 direct commands from God to sing his message of grace and truth together. The Creator compels us to come together and experience the joy of singing, so what greater opportunity could be found than to sing about what matters most? After all, Christmas carols creatively reveal the greatest news imaginable. They are not just holiday songs, but rather gospel songs that joyfully build each of us up in our faith each and every time we sing them.
2. The carols teach us deeper truths
The carols are the lyrical masterpieces of the hymns, spanning centuries and continents with foundational, transformational, theological substance. People are taught by what they hear, but they are catechised by what they sing – and there are no other songs that plumb the richest doctrinal depths like the carols. Even so, children still love to sing them, equipping them to carry the truth of the songs with them throughout their entire lives. What more could one ask for than for each generation to sing and internalise the deepest gospel revelations? Imagine the power of carrying truths through life such as those found in the words Charles Wesley from the carol Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Israel's strength and consolation / Hope of all the earth thou art / Dear desire of every nation / Joy of every longing heart.
3. The carols bring the generations together
There is no time like Christmastime to watch the generation gaps joyfully close as families and friends, young and old, Christian and non-Christian – people from every corner of the cultural spectrum – come together to sing carols. Just imagine the implication – this means that they are coming together to worship. Christmas carols are so timelessly composed and lyrically crafted that they enjoin the generations into this one, miraculous message about this one, miraculous moment.
4. The carols are musical masterpieces
While the lyrics express the most incredible story and message imaginable, the musicality of the hymns represent some of the most incredible melodies and orchestrations every composed. Borrowing from a variety of genres and styles each being interwoven into the others, the carols are an audible tapestry gloriously expressing the gospel story to every generation represented by each note, chord and arpeggio.
5. The carols are a radical witness
When we sing, others listen. This is why it is so much easier to hold the attention of an audience at a concert more than a sermon. When the carols are sung, those around us are informed or reminded of God's faithfulness in the past, and yet they are also hopefully pointed to the present grace that is now available to each of us in Christ. This is why Christmas is the biggest evangelistic event of the year: radical singing produces a radical gospel witness, revealing the hope of the world to those who are singing about him or listening to songs about him, even if they have yet to believe in him.
This Christmas, there are so many reasons to remember and enjoy the carols together – so above all else, let us sing!
Keith and Kristyn Getty's latest EP, 'The North Coast Sessions', was released in September and was inspired in part by the Psalms. It can be ordered from www.gettymusic.com.