Christmas Worship | Christmas with a Difference
In my mind, Christmas is definitely a time for singing. I mean, I will happily sing all year round, but there is something special about singing at Christmas. Maybe because the traditions of carols go far back, or because no matter what genre of music is your favourite, you’ll still know the words to all the Christmas ‘classics’, and no one minds belting them out.
Singing is one of those things that can bring people together. Music means a great deal to me, and I wouldn’t want to imagine life without it – and one of the reasons I love it so much is because of how special it is. It’s a language that goes beyond simple words, and can reach places that sometimes you’d never expect.
Whether it’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ or ‘Hark the Herald’, people will be singing this Christmas.
Worship is a topic I’m excited to delve further into, but today I wanted to touch on the idea of ‘Worship at Christmas’. In particular, do we get lazy in worship at Christmas?
I feel like this is a danger year round, that if we are comfortable and ‘too’ familiar with the songs we’re singing, does it just become singing by rote, rather than an act of praise and worship? I feel like very often, at Christmas time, carols are sung without actually thinking what you’re singing. I know I’m guilty of this myself – and I struggle to think of a time when I sat and thought about the words in carols.
Songs like ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Joy to the World’ are so often just brought out at Christmas: they’re familiar, they’re rousing, and they in many ways symbolise Christmas in song form. Just like the ‘Classics’ of the pop world, such as ‘White Christmas’, ‘Let it Snow’, or even ‘Fairytale of New York’ – people can sing along without thinking, the words are just ingrained.
Don’t get me wrong, I love carols, and I love the fact that these carols have lasted through time. I just think that maybe sometimes it’s worth sitting up and thinking about what we’re singing. Because ultimately, worship should be a conscious act, and we should be aware of what we’re singing. (Besides, the carols have some amazing verses when you dig into them!)
Take ‘Hark the Herald’ for example – the third verse of this shares such truth and hope in the real reason of Christmas: why Jesus was born, and the hope we can find in him.
“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n 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!””
Here’s another favourite, the final verse of ‘O Holy Night’
“Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!”
Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is LOVE and His gospel is PEACE.
He shall break chains; In HIS name, oppression shall cease.
Whether carols for you consist of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘Little Donkey’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ from the days of Nativity services, or maybe something more, there are such truths to be found within the carols. If you’re out singing carols this year, or attending a carol service, I encourage you to stop and think about what you’re singing, and maybe ask someone about what it means if you’re unsure.
Let our praise and worship this Christmas be an act of joyful surrender, in giving the glory to God in a way that is meaningful, and inspired. Let carols be the facilitator, but not just a mindless act. For Christmas is a time of joy, and I know I want to translate that in my worship.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
Worship the Lord with gladness,
come before him with joyful songs.”