I love old classic Christmas carols.
There are a lot of great new Christmas songs out there, but I’m always drawn to the oldies. It’s probably partially because I grew up on them, and the older I get the more I’m drawn to “good” stuff vs. new stuff. As a teenager I was always annoyed by the music chosen by major supermarket chains. These days every song I hear at Superstore is my jam.
I think it also has a lot to do with content. Old hymns and Christmas carols carry such foundational truths. I find when I listen to or sing them that they deepen my faith and speak to my soul. Like this one:
“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day!
To rescue us from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy!”
Most of my favourite songs have to do with the joy of Jesus’ birth. Songs like O Holy Night, O Come all Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World.
These songs speak about the long awaited birth of Christ. The prophets of old had predicted his coming. For centuries, while the world around them fell further and further into darkness, God’s people waited for the Saviour they had been promised. For the One who would free them from oppression, and bring them Hope. And when he finally came, they almost missed Him. Because He didn’t come as they expected. He came as a tiny, helpless newborn baby. Many didn’t recognize him at all. But for those shepherds who heard the angels proclaiming in the fields, for the magi who followed the star to see where it would lead, for Anna and Simon, the prophets who were told they would see the Saviour before their death, for Mary and Joseph, caught up in the middle of this strange, remarkable, unbelievable story – can you imagine the pure joy? The absolute awe? The wonder of knowing that all the prophecies, all the promises were finally being fulfilled? That all the years of waiting were done?
This is what I love about those carols.
“Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
This year these familiar songs have taken on a new meaning for me. Because the world feels dark, doesn’t it? Wars, disasters, shootings, train derailments, crazy politicians, bombings, sickness, death. There is so much calamity in our world, so much hurt, so much sadness. And I can’t help but think this is what it must have felt like for all those people waiting, waiting, waiting for the promised Messiah.
Except for one major difference: He’s already come. He came. He lived. He died for our sins. And He rose again.
And so this year, as I sing these hymns of joy and expectation – I sing them not only in celebration of the birth of Christ the Savior, but also in honour of Immanuel, God with us, and in hopeful expectation of His coming again – of the time when He will rule the nations with truth and justice, and make all things new.
“Come thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of every longing heart.
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart!”