did any of you grow up listening to christmas carols and really not have a clue what you were singing? or never really sing farther than the first verse? i did. i mean, i knew that “away in a manger” was about Jesus sleeping in a stable and not crying when he awoke, and that “o come o come emmanuel” was about the jews longing to be free from the oppressive romans (ransom captive israel).
but now that i’m older, i’m starting to realize how rich our christmas carols are. not only is the language very rich, but the content is amazing! and much of the richness is found by moving beyond the first verse of each song.
take, for instance, “hark the herald angels sing” (which is my new favorite):
hark! the herald angels sing
glory to the newborn King
peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
joyful, all ye nations rise
join the triumph of the skies
with angelic hosts proclaim:
christ is born in bethlehem!
mild He lays His glory by
born that man no more may die
born to raise the sons of earth
born to give them second birth
veiled in flesh, the Godhead see
hail the incarnate Deity
pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus our Emmanuel
hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
hail the Son of Righteousness
light and life to all He brings
risen with healing in His wings
Christ the highest of heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
come desire of nations, come!
fix in us Thy humble home
(lyrics by Charles Wesley – actually i think the original original lyrics may differ slightly from those above…; modern melody composed by Felix Mendelssohn)
those carol writers really understood what was happening when Christ
came. i don’t usually get it. and for so many christmases, i
missed it. i’m grateful they didn’t.
somehow now, when we sings these carols on Sunday morning, i really do see them as worship songs.