Hark the Herald Angel's Bling
Monday, December 17, 2007
I wrote this for the latest J-Walk. It's not out yet so here's a sneak pic:
Some people can’t stand carols. They find the music kitschy and old fashioned. The words are hard to understand (in exlcelsius Deo anyone?). Everything about Christmas carols seems irrelevant to our culture. I can understand this argument because we want to move with the times and keep making music for people now not people three hundred years ago.
Something that turns me off carols is the packaging. I hate green and red, I hate reindeer and I hate the Wiggles. These are the things that always seem to pop up around carols at Christmas time. The reason I hate all this stuff is that it all smacks of fakeness. There is nothing more hypocritical than having a bunch of pagans get on TV and sing about the great news of Jesus. I hate the way that a nation that has spent the last twelve months breaking all kinds of commandments comes together to sing ‘Joy to the world the Lord has come’ and go back home to their lives of rebellion.
I hate it when people don’t sing genuinely. That’s why I love singing at our church and youth group. When we sing we mean what we say. The stuff we sing changes our lives and our hearts. I can see it in people’s faces when we sing together and I see it in people’s lives as they interact with each other and the world.
What about the guys who wrote the carols? Three hundred years ago were they just the rockers who were commissioned to write some songs about Jesus or were they really on about what they wrote?
Some were. Isaac Watts wrote ‘Joy to the World’. He also wrote about 1500 other hymns and songs to praise Jesus. His songs stand out as being centred on Jesus and what he has done, the same way as the Bible is. He was totally blown away by the fact that Jesus would die in his place.
‘Twas for my sins my dearest Lord
Hung on the cursed tree,
And groaned away a dying life
For thee, my soul, for thee.’
Isaac Watts was sold out, genuine, on fire for Jesus. He would shudder now to think of the many who have used his songs but have not been moved to love Christ more. For many his songs are just songs that are sung each year to keep us feeling good about ourselves rather than helping us to see our own sin and God’s grace more clearly.
Another Carol writer who was genuine was Charles Wesley. He wrote ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’. He became a Christian while he was at uni. His brother and he were so convicted of their new faith that they gave up their careers and studies and traveled the world telling people about Jesus. Charles’ brother John would preach the sermon and Charles would write music to go with the sermons. Charles was also blown away by the grace God offered him through Jesus’ blood.
‘And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Saviour’s blood
died he for me who brought his pain
for me, who him to death pursued’
This is why I love carols. They stand for genuine joy. Joy that is seen in people’s hearts and lives changed by Jesus. Sometimes in all our newness and desire to have new music, we can lose the heart of many of the old hymn writers. They were guys and girls who stood for Christ and wrote songs that exalted him.
Some carols are rubbish. ‘Silent Night’ is a load of garbage. ‘Away in a manger’ has nothing to say and all it does is it makes me think of Jesus as being a little baby who doesn’t cry.
But there are carols that are all about the real joy that can be found at Christmas. The joy that is found in a savior who has come. Keep singing carols and sing them the way they were meant to be sung. With joy. With love. With genuine sincerity. Perhaps then we can show the world what they are missing when they sing each year.
‘Let earth receive her King.’
Posted byDan at 12:13 PM