Last week we scratched our heads over the questionable lyrics of some of our favorite Christmas carols. But there are definitely some song writers who actually thought more about truth and meaning than rhyming words. Here are 10 Christmas lyrics that ring true to me:
1. "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again."
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Sorry, couldn't help it. This year, my kids have 11 ½ days off from school. The novelty of the new presents wears off around day 4. I love my kids. I do. But as the song says...
2. "Even stoplights blink of bright red and green."
I'm just glad I'm not the only one who always thinks of Christmas during traffic.
*OK, let's get serious now…*
3. "Come let us adore Him"
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Enough of the whimsy, time to dig down deep now. This phrase caught my attention a few years ago because I constantly mis-sang the lyric to say, "Come let us BEHOLD Him." When I stopped and thought about it, that error completely changes the meaning. If you have followed the directions given, now you have "come" to Jesus. What are you going to do next? You can stand there and regard the baby in the manger with a "isn't that sweet?" mentality and move on, or you can choose to really commit to that Savior of yours and ADORE Him. I haven't mis-sung those words in a while now.
4. "Stay by my cradle 'til morning is nigh."
Away in a Manger
I hated this line as a child. I was not a baby! Yeah, a little too much pride there. Aren't we all the children of God? It is too assuming of us to think we have grown up, and possibly outgrown the need for our Father's care. Now, the songwriter may have been trying to be cute and have this be a song sung by a child who would have been in a cradle, but I like thinking of the idea that my Father in heaven looks at me with same adoration as one would a baby. I know I would be willing to die for my babies, just as He was.
5. "And ransom captive Israel."
O Come Emmanuel
Ooo, I just love imagery here. You really get a sense of how evil sin is - as awful and restless and uncaring as a kidnapper. We fall into its spell and can't be released until a price is paid. Jesus's birth was not cute or sweet - it was necessary for our survival!
6. "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth."
O Holy Night
Part of the inclusion here is just my love of beautiful language. But just this one sentence gives thousands of years of history and redemption. Let's extrapolate a little. The world lay in sin. It lay there because there was nothing that could be done about its sinful nature at the time. We were helpless to sin! And yet, we pined - we greatly desired - to be free of it. We only had to wait until our Savior was born, because that was the moment we had the hope of freedom. Our souls were right there waiting for Jesus, and when He arrived, it was our souls that recognized Him. That soul, given to us by God, and only redeemable by Jesus, knew when it could become whole again.
7. "How still we see thee lie."
O Little Town of Bethlehem
If you are truly familiar with the Christmas story, you know that Bethlehem was not peaceful and quiet the night Jesus was born. Because of the mandatory census decreed by Caesar Augustus, everyone whose family had originated in Bethlehem - every family who had ever come from the line of David - had to be there in that 3-day period to be counted. (And since you couldn't call ahead for reservations, it was pretty tough to find a room in an inn…) Bethlehem was bustling! So, I like to postulate that this song was referring to a different kind of stillness.
Psalm 46:10 says "Be STILL and know that I am God." Could it be this song is about the moment the earth realized that God was? They may not have known it exactly at that moment, but that was when the opportunity was born. (Remember: I didn't know the songwriter personally. This is just my guess.)
(P.S. - The same goes for "All is calm, all is bright." in Silent Night.)
8. "Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by."
O Little Town of Bethlehem
OK, I'm double dipping on O Little Town of Bethlehem. You don't mind, do you? Still going on the assumption that we are talking about something other than literal stillness, I believe the song is also referring to a different kind of sleep. Sleep in the Bible sometimes means death, and while this would not be a physical death, it is possible the song is talking about a spiritual death, how our soul could not be redeemed from sin without a Savior. Sounds morbid, I know, but the whole idea is that now that Jesus has been born (He would be the Everlasting Light that shineth in the dark street), our souls can awaken! (Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.)
9. "Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay."
The First Noel
The First Noel sets the idea of the order in God's salvation. Did you ever notice that the angels did not appear to everyone in the world? (Sure, they could have done that.) Wouldn't God want everyone to come and worship Jesus when He was born? And yet, He ONLY gave the birth announcement to the shepherds. They were poor, dirty, and lowly regarded by everyone around them… kind of like Israel! But God chose them FIRST. That's not saying Jesus wasn't born for everyone. Just that the Jews have always been God's chosen race, so they get first crack at accepting the Savior. (Hopefully they will, like the shepherds did.) Next, just like the shepherds shared the news with everyone else, the Gentiles have been given the same opportunity to be saved.
10. "Peace on earth and mercy mild"
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
The words "mercy" and "mild" both struck me together. Not because of the alliteration, but the way they both describe our Lord.
Mercy- Not receiving a negative due consequence. At Christmas, we don't often think of what it is we DON'T get. We think of presents; we even think of the gift of a Savior. What a blessing that we don't even have to think about punishment for our sins, and we still are covered! The birth of Jesus was God's decision to provide with that convenience. Mercy - the gift of not getting something.
Mild - Just as meekness is often mistaken for weakness, I think the word "mild" here also could be misrepresented. Again, the word is not describing the weakness of mercy, but rather the peace that it brings. It is like a healing balm that soothes and repairs. Like an antiseptic that provides instant relief, it doesn't have to be painful to be powerful. The mercy covers your soul and brings you complete reconciliation (as noted in the next line.)
There are many more lines we could look at to give us a better look at Christmas this season. Maybe this post will inspire you to sing with a new understanding in your heart. And in case I do not write again before the holidays end, I wish you all a blessed Christmas and New Year.
Because I love even numbers and lists!