Friday, November 30, 2012


One of the hazards of church music is what I call Christmas-Music-Inoculitus. It is a common problem for those who sing in church choirs, direct music, lead worship or play an instrument in church. It starts in August as choir directors break out Christmas anthems for the choir to rehearse. At first there is a subtle warm feeling as the music of Christmas stirs the heart weary of a long hot summer. By September, the songs are beginning to find their way into the heads of the exposed who find themselves singing Christmas songs as they wander through the grocery store. This, of course, elicits stares of disbelief from fellow shoppers. In October the symptoms are beginning to wear down the infected just about the time retailers are setting up the first Christmas trees. By November the choir is sounding good, but the pleasant feelings of the Christmas songs are being replaced by numbness that culminates in December in a full blown case of Christmas-Music-Inoculitus.

Choirs are not the only people who suffer from Christmas-Music–Inoculitus. Unsuspecting shoppers begin to show symptoms as Christmas carols are played in every store. The tragedy of this terrible disease is an inability to comprehend the lyrics of the songs. As the melody infects the brain, the lyrics fall on deaf ears and the message of the music of Christmas is little more than background music for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. By December 25th all we want for Christmas is a silent night free from Christmas music.
Music has been part of the Christmas story since Mary first raised her voice in the Magnificat (see Luke 1:46-56). On the night of Jesus’ birth the angels themselves burst out in song (Luke 2:13-14). Even those wise guys from the east bowed down and worshipped at the feet of Jesus (Matthew 2:11). The Music of Christmas is more than beautiful melodies. When describing the birth of Jesus, John said, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word. He is the Lyric of Life. It is fitting that music would surround the events of his arrival. Humans aren’t often good with words. We use them to praise God in one breath and curse each other with the next (James 3:10). But the Music of Christmas is different. At Christmas God Himself provided the lyrics for the melody that had long haunted the heart of humanity. Like the song that stays on the tip of your tongue, but eludes definition, man wandered the earth seeking the lyrics to a song we could only hear in the faintest corner of our hearts. On the night Jesus was born, the Music of Christmas burst out from heaven and filled the earth. He is the Word, He is the melody. The long lonely silence has ended.

This Christmas, I invite you to listen past the noise. Tune out the tired melodies and clever lyrics and listen … Ringing down from heaven is the song the angels first sang, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” That is a song no heart ever grows tired of hearing.