Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Carols sung and Carols believed

I'm a huge fan of Christmas carols. I'm also a huge fan of the folks who take the standard Christmas carols and tweak them a bit. I mean, how many, "O come, O come Emmanuel's," can one hear before it seems like his Ipod is on "repeat?" So I'm thankful for the many good albums I've collected over the years, particularly for those free on Recently I've been really digging all of Joel Rake's Christmas music and some of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbor's Xmas album.

What amazes me with many of the Christmas carols is their rich lyrics. Aside from "Away in a Manger's" apocryphal description of Jesus not crying (hate that one), I'm blown away by almost all of them. I mean look at these:

Joy to the World:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing:

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

What amazes me the most are unbelievers who sing these songs, but simply don't believe that Jesus is who He says He is. To sing of something so sublime, but to think of it as little more than a fairy tale, is to me surprising at best, and disingenuous at worst. 

Nevertheless it reminds me of the times when I, as well as many other brothers and sisters in the Lord,  sing such great truths in our carols and hymns but don't actively believe what we're singing. For instance, when I sing, "My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee," how much of that do I believe? If I hold my tongue when I need to say something hard but remain quiet due to fear of man, have I really believed the truth that the gospel sets me free? If I refuse to love an enemy, have I really "bought in" to the saving and transforming power of the gospel? Thinking and feeling the lyrics are a great first step. But actually believing, and then living out the implications of the truth found in such great carols is something even harder. I think that only comes as we bring the carols with us throughout the week. They're too good to only think, feel, believe on Sunday.

The unbelief of a Christian is of a different variety altogether, but it should still shock us just as much. I think the church singing "Silent Night" is different than Faster Pussycat (an 80's hair band) singing "Silent Night" on Monster Ballad's Christmas album. Nevertheless, the unbelief of the "musical artist" (and I realize that is getting a little loose with the language), can still remind us of our unbelief and the disconnect between the gospel we sing and the gospel we live out.

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