In the early 1870’s Josiah Holland penned these words:
There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer
and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
Josiah Holland had a point. Our celebration of Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the music that goes with the season. Last Sunday, our children and youth choirs presented our annual Family Christmas Concert. This Sunday, at 4:00 p.m., the Chancel Choir will be presenting “Vivaldi Gloria.” Each year, after the services on Christmas Eve, inevitably people will come up to me and tell me how Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the lighting of the Christmas candles and the singing of “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
A couple of years ago, one of the members of the Church told me that each year during the season of Advent, he pulls out CD’s of Handel’s Messiah, puts them in his car and listens to them throughout the days leading up to Christmas.
Of course, all this is as it should be. Scholars tell us that the first two chapters of the Gospel According to St. Luke… what we call the birth narrative… is actually written in the language of prose and poetry. It is a kind of hymn.
I’m not sure why Luke wrote it this way. Perhaps he understood intuitively that the language of music speaks to the heart in ways far more powerful than mere commentary or explanation.
I am reminded of something I witnessed years ago. An elderly woman I knew quite well struggled with Alzheimer’s. The dementia was advanced to the point to where she did not always recognize her family nor could she always carry on a conversation. Yet I was with her the night the radio was playing Christmas carols and she sang along with each of the carols recalling every word of every verse.
In a world that has become focused on technology, it would be well to remember that the language of music is the language of the heart; and it not only carries the cargo of theology, but also fills the sails with the winds of inspiration.
So, even if you cannot carry a tune in a bucket, go ahead and hum a Christmas carol. Go ahead and teach your children and grandchildren the joy of singing. And make a point of joining us this Sunday afternoon for our Chancel Choir Christmas Concert.
Rev. Dan Brown