I was asked to write a guest blog this week, and thought I’d share it here:
Question: I know Christmas songs are plentiful, but what three or four songs do you recommend to help us welcome Christmas?
Christmas is my favorite holiday, and the songs have so much to do with that. It’s really hard to pick just a few! But I would say that I always come back to the classics. I just made a new version of “What Child is This?” that I truly love to sing because the words are so profound and the melody is simply gorgeous. I also love “Joy to the World,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Silent Night.” Recently, I wrote a new song about the true meaning of God’s gift to the world called “Christmas is Forever” and of course, I think that would be a great one to help welcome Christmas!
Questions: I often have a hard time describing the sacred power of music, so maybe you can try? What is it about music that reaches into our hearts and moves us? How can music help us push aside our busyness and prepare to celebrate Christ?
You know, in our culture, music is so often background sound. They pipe it into shopping malls and play it on elevators. You really can’t go many places at Christmas without hearing music. And so many of the songs are just part of our cultural DNA. We’ve heard these songs since we were little, and we associate them with Christmas which also usually means we associate them with strong emotions and memories. But if you really stop and listen to the words of the classic Christian Christmas songs, so many of them are absolutely amazing. They really help to keep me focused on the meaning of the season.
I’m not sure why music moves people the way it does, but the truth is that we were wired by God to respond. No one is unaffected by music. Even people who don’t think they care are influenced with different emotions by the score in a movie, or by hearing the song that was playing when their heart got broken in high school. The reason Christmas music is so profound is that it couples that basic human capacity to be moved by music with cultural and family traditions and experiences. Add to that lyrics that proclaim to the world that God has sent His Son to us as the greatest gift ever given, and you have something with the power to move people deeply.
With all that said, how would I tell people to let music help them slow down and prepare for the coming of Christ? I would tell them to stop and actually listen to the words. Think about them. Don’t let it be background noise – let it be the prayer of your heart. Make it a time of worship. You’ll be surprised how quickly it brings you out of the busyness and into the profound.