Pastor Chris Tweitmann
Just a few years ago, Time magazine conducted an exhaustive survey of U.S. copyright registrations for Christmas songs. In doing so, they determined “Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas song. In fact, Time also surprisingly discovered, in terms of ranking the most recorded Christmas tunes, the heavily religious songs about the birth of Christ outnumbered the “highly commercial ones about Santa and snow.”
Twelve of the eighteen most-recorded Christmas songs in America, eight of the top ten, and all of the top six fell on the “more Jesus” side of Time’s ledger. Despite all the hum-bug about the ongoing “war on Christmas,” the story of Christ’s birth still serves as primary background music, the foundational soundtrack, for December. The name and the truth about Jesus continues to be weaved into the comings and goings of visitors to shopping centers, big retailers, and restaurants during this most wonderful time of the year.
Our approach over these last few weeks has been less subtle. We’ve been looking at selected, beloved carols centered on the birth of Jesus all throughout this Advent season. The intention of this sermon series has been three-fold. Firstly, we have sought to gain a better understanding of the origin and history of these familiar and beautiful songs we all treasure. Secondly, our desire has been to better appreciate the truths of scripture, particularly related to the Christmas story, being highlighted by these tunes we memorized long ago as children. Finally, we want these hymns to serve as a window onto the biblical story and thus further illuminate our use of these songs to praise God.
This Sunday, we will gather together for one, combined service at 10:30 a.m. and mediate upon a famous holiday hymn that actually began as a traditional French carol. The song may have originated as early as the eighteenth century. Even though, its verses have been translated into several other languages besides French, today this tune is sung just the same as it was a hundred and fifty years ago. This song of invitation initiated by Christians to others to come celebrate Christ’s birth with them is the perfect selection for us to consider on the day before Christmas Eve. For the lyrics of this hymn don’t just ask the singer to lift up his or her eyes and heart in wonder and observe the beauty of what God has given the world, they demand it!
On Christmas Eve, we will huddle together in the dark for two services at 4 pm and 9 pm and begin to celebrate the coming of the Light of the World, of Jesus born anew in our lives. Once again, we will retell the story that is the reason for the season. Then, we will reflect on this life-changing, history-altering, and promise-fulfilling moment in light of the oldest Christmas song ever written, preserved for us by the apostle Paul.
In addition, we will explore the genesis of a favored Christmas carol, that among many hymnologists is believed to be one of the three or four best Christian songs ever written. Written by Charles Wesley, a prolific composer of treasured hymns, this carol is the one that caps off Linus’ biblically based explanation of what Christmas is all about in the famous Charlie Brown Christmas special. Known in a variety of traditions, this song is beyond compare in the richness of its content and the rousing nature of its melody.
I look forward to worshipping with you over these next few days as we prepare to receive the One who was, is, and always will be, the One who is, remarkably, wonderfully, and faithfully, with and for us, in Jesus Christ.
O come, let us adore Him!