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Christmas Advent 10: Preparing with Song

Christmas Advent Day 10: Preparing with Song

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14, ESV)

Yes, I know. Textual analysis supports the heavenly host “saying” the sentence quoted in Luke 2. Therefore, we cannot be sure that the song “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is scripturally accurate. I completely get that. However, there is a strong link in the Bible between the idea of praise and singing. Just read through the Psalms some time and you’ll see what I mean. So while we can’t be sure the angels were singing, we also can’t be sure that they were not. If ever there were a time for them to sing, it would have been then! While the world’s inhabitants largely went on that night as if nothing had happened, the angels couldn’t help but burst out their praise. As Paul would later write, the fullness of the time had come—God sent forth His Son! (see Galatians 4:4). The Word had become flesh! (see John 1:14). The long-promised Emmanuel—God with us—had come! Again, if the angels were ever to sing, this would be as good a time as any. 

I love the idea of that massive heavenly host singing. How many were there? We can’t know if it was all the angels. Revelation 5:11 seems to number the angels at least in the hundreds of millions. Can you imagine if all of them were singing praise at the same time? It would be a concert unlike anything these shepherds (or anyone else) had ever experienced! 

If you’re reading this, you probably know me fairly well. But if you don’t know, I love Christmas music. Once October hits (and maybe cool days in September), Christmas music is fair game. I love listening to my old favorites and discovering new soon-to-be classics. I enjoy collecting old Christmas records and buying new Christmas records (ah, the beloved vinyl resurgence). Sitting in our living room on a cold Saturday morning, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and listening to a Christmas record—to me, that’s a dream morning setup. I love the oldies: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and dozens more. I love the recent past: Harry Connick, Jr., Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, and others. I love the relative newbies: Michael Buble, Matt Wertz, Dave Barnes, Michael W. Smith, Tommee Profitt, Jamie Cullum, and so many more. What can I say? I have a deep love and connection with Christmas music. I love to hear it, and I love to sing it.

When I listen to these songs, I’m often whisked away to another time and another place. It brings back memories of childhood. I hear songs my parents played as they drove our conversion van to McKeesport, PA. I hear the songs our family sang together. When I hear “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” by Ray Conniff, I’m immediately pounding up the steps of our old house ready to see the presents. And I’m reminded of those same Christmas mornings with my own children anytime “Cool Yule” by Louis Armstrong comes on. And then there are the hymns that lead to awe and worship: the thrilling climax of “O Holy Night” (especially Tommee Profitt’s take); the joyful proclamations of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Joy to the World”; the tremendous truth of “Mary, Did You Know?”      

All this music serves to prepare me for the season. It helps make me ready to enjoy the time with my family and friends. It helps point my mind to Bethlehem. Christmas songs are linked with so many memories. When I hear them, I’m reminded of the joys of Christmases past and the anticipation of the Christmas just ahead. It’s amazing how the human mind works. Just a few notes from these songs, and a swell of memories washes over me. This leads me to wonder about those shepherds, who, I am assuming, are in Heaven now. Imagine those first moments in Heaven for them—hearing the angels again and knowing they were finally home.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have several hundred Christmas songs to listen to.

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