As I noted in the post for December 3, the caroling voices of the angelic host heralded the arrival of the babe in Bethlehem to the shepherds, watching over their sheep by night. (Did you see what I did there?) If we dissect the words of their songs and proclamation, we would find deep theology (and maybe I'll do that for another Thanks to Giving post), which seeded the habits of the early church to create songs and hymns to praise and glorify the Lord, including many dedicated to his Incarnation.
Today, it's practically impossible to find a radio station that plays anything more than mind-numbing ditties about it being cold outside (which it's not) or whatever happened last Christmas. They do have a cuteness factor, but cuteness overload can backfire -- just ask the relatives of kids who have been told they're cute and clever 24/7 (and for a word on that, read this, Watch Your Pronouns). Even the Christian radio megastation considers these types of songs worthy fare to put on constant repeat at Christmas time just because the artist is on a Christian label.
But take a moment, maybe look up a Spotify or Pandora channel that highlights a few of the rich carols of the church, and consider the lyrics of these deeply doctrinal hymns of Christmas. Here's one of my favorites, "See, Amid the Winter's Snow" (and I'll post a few more these next couple of weeks), though it's a little more obscure. It's performed here by Annie Lennox, no less, whose mellow Welsh tones give the carol a full body of sound and emotion.
For those who shudder at the imagery of snow in Christmas carols set in the time of the first nativity, Welsh carolist Aled Jones states that the expression "was a message of purity against the sins of the world."
Listen here, and explore the lyrics by Edward Caswell below (music composed by Sir John Goss).
See, Amid the Winter's Snow
(all the verses included here, though not in Annie Lennox's version)
See, amid the winter's snow,
Born for us on Earth below,
See, the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.
Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption's happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits among the cherubim.
Say, ye holy shepherds,say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?
"As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing 'Peace On Earth'
Told us of the Saviour's birth."
Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.
Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.
Believe it or not, yes, I'm citing Wikipedia.
From Thanks2Giving '15
Return to Thinking again
From Thanks2Giving '16
December 1: Being a Pilgrim for Christmas
December 2: Craving Christmas, Desiring Christ
December 3: Strangers on Christmas Day
December 4: Hail Redemption's Happy Dawn!
December 5: Eureka!
December 6: O Henry, the Magi, and the Gift
December 7: Christmas Impersonators
December 8: This Year's Best Christmas Ad?
December 9: Why So Much Joy?
December 10: Where is the Method in the Madness?
December 11: Waiting for Redemption
December 12: Winter for a Reason
December 13: A Special Little Christmas
December 14: Mary and Holy Merriment
December 15: The Christmas Eve Truce
December 16: His Name Shall Be Jesus
December 17: C.B. and the Meaning of Christmas
December 18: Peace, Not Peace
December 19: Moonless Darkness Stands Between
December 20: He Makes Room for Us
December 21: Speaking of Glory . . .
December 22: A Christmas Carol That's Not About Christmas
December 23: Lessons Learned from Lean Christmases
December 24: All My Heart This Night Rejoices
December 25: The Neverending Gift Exchange
A Concluding Note: Do Not Open Until Christmas 2016
Laura Miller, home for the holidays