One of my favorite things to do every December is to wake up early each morning and plug in the lights on the Christmas tree. And one of my least favorite things to do all month is to unplug them each night before we go to bed. I don’t feel that way about turning on the lights in the kitchen or switching off the lamp beside the bed; this is something unique to this season. There are probably some things like that for you – things that become part of your routine during Christmas that aren’t necessarily part of it any other time of the year.
Maybe you’re like me, and it’s the turning on of the lights. Perhaps it’s some kind of baking you do that you don’t do during June or July. Maybe it’s the progressive wrapping of presents – just another thing that’s worked into your regular schedule that don’t happen any other time of the year.
Could I encourage you to add one of these habits?
Make sure that singing – and singing with regularity – is part of your Christmas. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be singing any other time of the year; you should be not only because God commands us to sing, but because singing is actually life-giving for the follower of Jesus. But here – now – during this season – there is something unique about singing these songs at this time. Let me explain with three reasons to make sure singing is part of your Christmas this year:
1. Because of the truth.
My goodness, the songs of Christmas. And I’m not talking about “Christmas Shoes.” I’m talking about some of the most deeply theological lyrics ever composed, and yet these songs are reserved for this single time of the year. Songs like this:
“Hail! The heav’n born Prince of peace!
Hail! The Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King!’”
Or this one:
“Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face;
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.”
Or maybe this one:
“For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.”
These are beautiful lyrics. They are rich lyrics. Don’t miss them this Christmas because singing these songs is filling not only your mouth, but your soul, with the truth of Jesus.
2. Because we are forgetful.
I’m not talking about forgetting where I parked my car (which incidentally do all the time). I’m talking about being spiritually forgetful; I’m talking about being forgetful at the soul-level. We hear about the promises of God, over and over again. We read them, meditate on them, study them, sometimes even memorize them, but then at the first sign of trouble in our lives, the questions start. We begin to doubt. We wonder if God is who we thought He was, or if there is even a God at all. Ironically, this can be especially true during Christmas when our laughter and joy is often mingled with tears and sadness. But that’s why we sing.
God has designed us this way. Singing, and music in general, connects with us at a level nothing else does. It lifts the eyes to heaven and the soul follows with it. Perhaps that’s why, throughout the history of Christianity, one of the greatest tools for teaching theology has been music. After all, one of the earliest Christian hymns is the great Christological passage of Philippians 2.
3. Because we are emotional.
Once again, Christmas brings an emotional swing for most of us. We think about days gone by, and with them, we think about what – and who – we have lost. That sense of loss gets mingled in with our sense of hope and joy at the season. This, too, is why we should make it our practice to sing at Christmas.
Emotions are a gift; they’re part, I believe, of what it means to be created in God’s image. Music and singing helps connect what our minds might know but our hearts do not feel. While we can’t be ruled by our emotions, if we never engage emotionally with God, then our faith is stale. Jesus Himself told the woman at the well that a day was coming when the true worshippers would worship in spirit and in truth; that is, they would worship with the heart and the head. They would worship through their knowledge of God and their love of God.
Surely this is at least one of the reasons why we are commanded to sing; God wants a song in our hearts and our lips because of those times when our mind might remember but our hearts are forgetful.
4. Because we are prideful.
Ever get caught singing in the car? Someone looking at you from another traffic lane? Me too. It’s embarrassing. And for those of us who don’t have great voices, it can even be a little embarrassing to sing loudly and proudly with the fellowship of God’s people. And maybe that’s part of the point.
Singing, for most of us, is undignified. We don’t have trained voices; you’ll never catch us on stage with a microphone. Singing is for children; not for mature adults. If that’s true, then the choice to sing where others can hear you, is the choice to forego your pride. Singing is a choice of humility. And surely this is the season for such humility when we celebrate the most profound act of humility of all, that God would descend to us from heaven as a baby in a manger.
Along with everything else that will occupy your attention and schedule this Christmas, don’t forget this. Sing, friends. Sing the truth. Let’s do it for the sake of our souls and the glory of God.