This is the second article in the series ‘10 Things to Do with Your Family This Christmas Season.’
Remember that word “HARK!” Ever wonder what you were singing? “Hark! the herald angels sing…” “Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say throw cares away…” An odd old expression of the English language long since fallen out of use, the word is yet perfect in its own way. A command: LISTEN! Give your ears to hear! Pay close attention! Mark what I say! Eagerly pay heed! We sing it all the time around Christmas and never give it a second thought. But it calls out demanding an audience. What you are about to hear is important. It is life!
Music is most consistently the art form that we Americans consciously or unconsciously make our own. Like a best friend, we invite it into the innermost sanctum of our lives, to be a part of our most intimate moments. Christmas music is especially so, and this is the one time of year when even the most pagan in society will tolerate the proclamation of Christ and his advent because it is sung in traditional styles carved long ago deep into the foundations of Western civilization. Most of us associate these carols and songs with the sweetest and best memories, our deepest and richest wishes, so much so that we hardly hear the words. This is the forgotten power of music often untapped by Christians.
This year, put it to intentional purpose. Listen afresh to the old songs and let the melody and lyrics tell the old tale. Read the history, recognize in the writers of these beloved hymns, the kingdom builders of the ages who created powerful culture around simple verse and tune. Make a playlist with your old favorites. Find new songs to add. Then watch it build a culture of joy and reverence in your home.
George Frederick Handel’s Messiah has for the last two hundred and seventy five years, been a staple of the Western world, never going out of vogue. It is composed entirely of Scripture, the story of Christ our Redeemer, exposited through musical oratorio. To the postmodern humanist, the popularity and continued demand for this music is inexplicable. The unequivocal declaration of the gospel is passed over or explained away with vagaries. But tradition, sentiment, and nostalgia do not explain away the truth of the Word of God. It cannot be blotted out by radical re-interpretation, or the gyrations of historical revisionism.
So Hark! Listen! Turn up that music! Belt out, in tune or out of tune, the song of all the ages! Tell all the world, Jesus is King! Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe the Son of Mary!