With Christmas less than a week away, we’re about to be bombarded by a bunch of songs that we only hear once a year. Classic Christmas carols, some of which the church has been singing for centuries, are going to be a part of every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services – not to mention all the airplay they’ll get on radio stations too.
The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation – when God became flesh. That baby lying in the manger is the very Son of God. He is the Word who was present at creation, through whom all things were made. (John 1:1-3) As we gaze into the manger at Christmas, we stand in awe of the miracle and mystery of the incarnation.
The songs we sing at Christmas have tried to help us understand and comprehend what the incarnation means and why it matters.
Take a look at these lyrics from classic Christmas carols:
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” circa 400:
Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
“What Child is This?” 19th Century
Hail, hail the Word made flesh
The Babe, the Son of Mary
“See Amid the Winter’s Snow,” 19th Century
Lo, within a stable lies
He who built the stary skies,
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.
“Once in Royal David’s City” 19th Century
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all
“O Come All Ye Faithful” 18th Century
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” 18th Century
Veiled in flesh the God-head see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
As we celebrate Christmas in a few days and lift our voices together in song, let’s try to look beyond the warm and fuzzy memories they may be associated with. Let’s look at the words we’re singing and remember the awesome reality of Christmas: that God – who created everything, who is present everywhere, eternal, and unchanging – stooped down to take on flesh, be born as a helpless infant, and bring salvation to mankind. And let’s remember the awe and wonder of Christmas.