MasterCarols happened last Sunday, and even though it was pouring rain for half the day, we still had a full house! There were plenty of visitors, and the singing was joyous.
I love it when people really get into the singing. When you’re standing up the front leading, it can be quite flattening to see a bunch of blank faces staring back – not even staring at you, but gazing off into the middle distance, completely unengaged. With Christmas carols, because they’re so familiar, people usually join in with great gusto, and it makes me so happy to see people moving along to the music as well. We had an excellent band this year, who all worked well together and made good music.
I’ve been really struck by how much solid gold gospel and worship there is in many of the Christmas carols. I’m always trying to encourage people to think about what they’re singing, but I think with Christmas carols I’m as guilty as anyone of mindlessly singing them half the time. But even though you get dubious lines like “little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes” in Away in a manger (doubtful!), you also get things like this in O come all ye faithful:
God of God, Light of light
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb
Very God, begotten, not created
O come let us adore him!
That’s a credal statement, right there. Or how about, from O Holy Night:
Truly he taught us to love one another
His law is love and his gospel is peace
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother
And in his name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise his holy name
Christ is the Lord, o praise his name forever
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
And to finish, some majestic Charles Wesley in Hark the herald angels sing:
Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings
Risen 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 new born king!
So many people sing these words every year, or even hear them in shopping malls, and don’t give them a second thought. They’re just the aural wallpaper of the season. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if people singing these words this year could actually understand them for the first time? Pray that God moves mightily in people, and that those of us involved in church gatherings and events would not get caught up in rushing around, but would point to the glorious Prince of Peace.