One of the aspects of Christmas nearly everyone loves, is the opportunity to sing the classic carols we have all sung for most of our lives. The carols themselves are some of the best-known and best-loved songs we have.
One obvious reason is because we really know them. Often we sing so many new songs we hardly know the ones we are singing. Not only do we know these great carols, we have memories attached to singing them. They are part of our worship experience.
Secondly, they connect us to each other. In this age of the proliferation of songs leading to many churches having a unique repertoire, at Christmas, churches are drawn to a similar body of carols. Visit a church during the summer – it is very possible the songs could be ones you have never heard before. Visit the same church at Christmas time – you might feel right at home with carols you have sung your whole life.
Most importantly, the theology of Christmas carols is unmistakable and draws us into worship. Yes, Christmas carols are often full of metaphors that can become easy targets for the person trying to find problems if taken literally. But, some of the richest theological texts we have are found in Christmas carols.
Here are a few of my favorite Christmas texts that proclaim the whole Gospel. I’ve also included their number in the 2008 Hymnal and a “power statement” for each one.
“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” (217)
“But, with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn…”
“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (176)
“From our fears and sins release us…”
“O Sing a Song of Bethlehem” (216)
“O sing a song of Calvary, it’s glory and dismay…”
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” (199)
“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing…”
“The First Noel” (180)
“And with His own blood, mankind has bought.”
This Christmas, don’t just settle for the obvious new songs to sing. Reach into the rich carols that people love and know, and put the Gospel in their mouths to sing. It will be a glorious season of worship if you do.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.