I cannot remember a time when I did not revel in Christmas music. Over the years I have sung in and directed choirs, played in bands and orchestras, and even arranged music for choir and brass quintet (in which I played the French Horn)– and my favorite pieces always include multiple Christmas carols.
One thing I love is that Christmas has been around so long as a celebration, , and has been celebrated by so many cultures, that we have a great variety of Christmans music. Music that sounds like a medieval French dance (the word “carol” means “to dance in a circle”) “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella;” or plainsong “O Come, O come, Immanuel.”
It seems like every year I learn or hear a new carol, from a new place and/or time. I remember the first time I head the Ukranian Bell Carol as a little boy. And when I heard the lovely “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” Polish carol. I just never get enough Christmas music. Not too long ago, I heard this new (to me) Nigerian Christmas Carol.
I hope you could get past the drums in the beginning to hear the whole thing out, because the words and the music are profoundly beautiful. One can imagine the Africans who originated the carol singing about their King:
We are glad we have a Father we can trust,
We are glad we have a Father to rely on,
The whole thing is very African– and very reverent. Now, it’s not the same way my pigmentally challenged ancestors would have expressed it– because they weren’t from that culture. But after seeing this, I was profoundly moved– and enriched. How blessed I am to live in a time and place where I have access to all these different expressions of joy over the birth of Jesus!
And if we can appreciate carols from different cultures, can we not also respect other expressions of worship?
It strikes me as I listen to carols from different cultures how different they are, and yet how profoundly they express the same emotions and sentiments, hopes and aspirations that I have. And rather than being threatened by their differences, I am enriched.
Why cannot we Christians see all the varied expressions of worship as facets on the same beautiful diamond, as expressions that we would not have thought of, but still true and beautiful? Will not the great choir on the Sea of Glass be made up of people from every tribe, and tongue, and people? And will they not all sing their own unique song of gratitude to the Lamb as they throw their crowns at His feet?
That’s how I see Christmas. I see it as a preview of that joyous throng on the Sea of Glass, celebrating God’s great gift to all.