Sounds of the Season

The “Sounds of the Season;” what does that mean to you? Christmas carols, church choirs, Paul McCartney on the radio?  Only at this time of the year can everyone find some type of “joyful noise” they actually enjoy.  Why is that? According to it’s because services like Spotify do such a great job categorizing the sounds we have come to love.  According to a 2014 research project, it was discovered that there are nearly a million Christmas time tracks.  Back then, they reported 914,047 tracks represented 180,660 unique songs and were created by 63,711 unique artists – from Aaron Neville to Zuma the King. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley were the top three.  As we look over the list, we find that many of these favorites are reflective of what is happening around us during the season, but as Lifeway Research editor, Marissa Postell Sullivan, points out in a recent article, a lot of our favorites describe what happens in our spirit as we celebrate.  Marissa describes the history and theological meaning behind five of our favorites.
1. O Holy Night - Composed by French poet Placide Cappeau more than 175 years ago, it reminds us of what we’re celebrating in the Christmas season—“the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” This is a song of hope for the weary world—a world ridden with sin. And this hope is not based on feel-good words of holiday cheer, but in Jesus Christ.
2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Written in 1739 by Englishman Charles Wesley, this song has, for centuries, helped the church see the glory of God in the incarnation. According to the latest State of Theology report, 53% of Americans say Jesus was a great teacher but not God. But as the lyrics of this song remind us, Jesus, the Christ child, is the everlasting Lord.
3. Joy to the World - This song, written by Isaac Watts in 1719, reminds the world of the joy we have in the Lord’s coming and the Savior’s reign. As we experience the sorrow, pain, and brokenness of this sin-filled world, the call to joy may seem trite and unhelpful. But this joy is not based on our circumstances but in the God who rules over all—now and for eternity.
4. Go Tell It on the Mountain - A Negro spiritual passed down orally from plantation to plantation, this song is a call to join the shepherds in fulfilling the Great Commission to declare that “Jesus Christ is born.” John Wesley Work, Jr., the first African American collector of Negro spirituals, published “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in 1907 and Christians all over the world have made it part of their Christian tradition since that time.
5. What Child Is This - Written by William Chatterton Dix and published in 1868, it reminds listeners of the unexpected nature of Christ’s coming and calls the church to respond in worship. While the first verse sings the glory of Christ—the child “whom angels greet with anthems sweet”—there are still hints of the unexpected. Christ came as a child sleeping on the lap of a young girl in humble conditions. And shepherds, of all people, were watching.
As you enjoy the sounds of the season, remember the reason all of us can make a joyful noise, the arrival of Jesus, the promised Messiah, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Serving the Savior,
Bro. Jonathan
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