Ever since I was a child, my favorite part of the Christmas season has been the songs, the hymns, the carols. When I was a young girl, I had a book that included the lyrics to a great many Christmas carols, and I studied it diligently that I might commit them all to memory (to this day, I count the memorization of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as one of my greatest achievements in life). And, with great joy I recall gathering around the piano with my dad’s side of the family as we came together on Christmas Eve to sing for hours as many Christmas carols as we could manage; we even sang a few non-traditional songs that I will forever associate with Christmas such as Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.” There is just something about music that connects with me and so many of us that causes it to stick with us throughout time.
There is something particularly special about the music of Christmas. These songs proclaim that God has come into the world in unexpected places, that God’s promises of peace and well-being for all are being realized here and now, and that God is with us. And, so as I sing these songs celebrating the birth of Jesus, the one through whom I have come to know God most fully and decisively, I am filled with great hope. As I sing these songs proclaiming God’s realm being established on earth, I am filled with great peace. As I sing these songs announcing to all who have ears to hear that “Christ the savior is born,” I am filled with great joy. As I sing these songs of hope, peace, and joy, I become acutely aware of God’s great love for me and all the world and the call to share that love with all others.
Now, it is exceedingly difficult for me to choose just one favorite Christmas carol. But, as I am soon to invite you to such thoughtful discernment, I figured it only fair that I do so as well. If I had to single out only one Christmas song as my most beloved, I would go with “Go, Tell It on the Mountain.” I certainly adored singing out (perhaps shouting out?) this carol as a child. Yet, I have come to love it even more as an adult. I love the call to proclaim “good news of great joy to all people,” and the tune stirs my soul and enlivens my spirit in a way that words cannot express (as I have found to be the case for me with so many African American spirituals). Singing this song doesn’t just make me feel good inside, it inspires me to spread the message of God’s love and justice breaking into the world with both my words and my actions.
So, what is your favorite Christmas song? And, why that one? I look forward to learning about your most-loved carols in the days and weeks to come. And, I remind you to join together for First United’s first virtual Candlelight and Carols service this Sunday, December 13 at 5pm. Perhaps we’ll even sing your favorite!
Blessings and peace to you this Advent season,