Join the Christmas Hymns of Praise

Here are the words that lie at the heart of the Christmas story:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”

These are probably very familiar lines to us and so I love the fresh way in which one of our newer carols expresses them:

Glorious light! See the dawn of Salvation: Angels in white fill the skies with their wondrous song; Awakening earth with news of His birth; Join the hymn of the highest heavens!

Christians are singing people! Of course, all people sing when they have something to celebrate – whether it’s love or football! – good things make us glad. But in the Christmas story we have something especially good, something glorious to be glad about. However, the carol goes on…

Long has the world fought the song of the angels. Heavenly music is drowned by a warring world;

People also sing when they’re sad. Melodies come in the minor keys, as well as the major. Lament is just as valid a form of song as is celebration. We sing about ‘glorious light’ at the darkest time of the year. The light of Jesus is needed because in all kinds of ways the world is a very dark place. There is personal darkness – loneliness, or the absence of a loved one which one feels particularly keenly at this time of year. And there is national darkness – so much indifference to Jesus and our need for a Saviour. The carol puts it well: Long has the world fought the song of the angels.

Yet hope burns a light, that shatters the night; Turn your heart to the call of glory!

That’s our prayer: that our own hearts and the hearts of others would be re-tuned to the song of the angels. But not in a burdensome ‘to-do list’ kind of way…
Buy presents
Decorate house
Sing joyfully
Invite someone to church

It’s important that we start deeper down than with to-do lists. Yes, it honours God when we sing His praises and seek to share the good news with others…but only if it arises from within us, as grateful worship:

Glory to God in the highest!
Peace to men on earth.
Is that the song your heart is tuned to? If not, how can you cultivate it? Here is the way forward:
Come and adore Him with wonder –
Christ Lord of Heaven and earth.

If the good news of great joy doesn’t feel like great joy, the best way and only thing to do is to come back to the Christmas story and ask God to rekindle a spirit of adoration and wonder at what God has done for us in Jesus.

With love in Christ…
Joe Dent

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