“Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” Psalm 47:6
Listen carefully to the music around you right now…did you hear them? The faint, occasional refrains of angel song and magi melody?
Most of the holiday music blaring on our American radios, from our phones, and in stores is a compilation of 20th-century pop tunes…old favorites repeated over and over.
But tucked in between “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” you’ll hear snatches of classic carols—the original music of Christmas.
Carols differ from popular ditties because they’re songs about Jesus Christ. They’re found in hymnbooks scattered throughout Christendom, in all different languages and tunes. But their theme is the same—celebrating the birth of Jesus with joyous praise.
The word “carol” started out in 13th-century England as a term for a circular dance, but over the years it became associated with Christmas songs—particularly those religious in meaning and purpose. A carol is a song of joy or mirth, like a birdsong. As a verb, it means to “sing joyously…to praise or celebrate in song.”1
When we go caroling, we lift up praise to God for the gift of Jesus Christ. Here are five ways carols bless us:
Carols focus our attention on Jesus. While materialism and secular activities distract us from the message of Christmas, every carol we hear is a testimony to the divinity of Christ. He is the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer King…oh come, oh come Emmanuel.
Carols call us to praise. Whether somber and quiet, or loud and boisterous, Christmas carols bring praise to our newborn Prince of Peace. Carols raise our hearts to offer honor and worship to Him. Joy to the world!
When we sing carols, we join others in worship. Lift your voice with your brothers and sisters at your church, in reverence and adoration of our Lord. Or, when you’re by yourself, sing along with the heavenly hosts who surround His throne…angels from the realms of glory.
Carols share the good news about Christmas with others. Sing loud and boldly! Share His gospel story through songs that proclaim His majesty, His salvation. We cannot stay silent—go tell it on the mountain!
Carols are the only music with real hope. For those of you dealing with difficult circumstances during the holidays, songs like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” can fall flat, with a tinny ring. But when we hear that the great Messiah has come, that God is truly with us, we have hope to get us through this season. O come, all ye faithful.
This Christmas, will you find the grace of Jesus in carols? You’ll hear the old, old story from the Bible, about a King born in a manger—your King, who has come to redeem you. Sing for Him!
Lord Jesus, as we celebrate Your birth this Christmas, let us echo the songs of those who have gone before us. May we bring our gifts of music and good news to a world hungry for Your love and care. Bless us in this praise, and bless all those around us who join in. In Your name, Amen.
“Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we; let all within us praise his Holy name! Christ is the Lord, then ever, ever praise we! His power and glory, evermore proclaim”!2
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2From O Holy Night, translation by John Sullivan Dwight of Cantique de Noel, whose original lyrics were written in French by Placide Cappeau