I grew up in a home where Christmas Songs were well-loved (even started playing them around the end of October). I remember Dad playing the records every Christmas Eve as we went to bed. To this day whenever I hear Gene Autry or The Lettermen, my mind immediately goes back to that quite large record player in our living room and Christmas Eve memories.
My wife read a devotional yesterday as we were preparing for our day, and it caused me to think about why Christmas time is particularly filled with singing. No matter the radio station it’s not hard to find Christmas songs…even good Christmas songs! But I’ve been wondering why Christmas is so closely associated with singing. Then I realized that a good majority of the New Testament references to The Incarnation of Christ (the birth of Christ) are simply songs. Whether you’re referring to Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56), Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 1:67-80), the Doxology of the Angel’s (Luke 2:8-14), Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:25-35), the Kenosis passage (Phil. 2:5-11), or even the exultations in Hebrews 1 and 2, all of those passages (with the exception of Hebrews) are songs or psalms. They are associated with songs and all associated with the Incarnation.
In reading through these passages (something I would encourage you to do as you prepare to celebrate Christmas), I’ve noticed 10 features of God’s Christmas Song:
- Bible-quoting: the first thing that jumped out to me is how often the Scriptures are quoted in these passages. Just read through them and you’ll notice the emphasis on God doing what He has said He would do.
- Christ-centered: Obviously these songs are all centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. One example is Zechariah saying, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76).
- God-glorifying: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (Luke 1:47). Everything is intent on glorifying God…just read through these passages and you’ll immediately see this same thing!
- Grace-saturated: A quick look at Mary’s Magnificat demonstrates the prominence of grace…this is a work of God not of man.
- Spirit-directed: All of these writers were writing under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That work is not occurring today but the point is the same…this kind of praise comes as directed by the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 1:67).
- Trinitarian: God’s Christmas songs are incredibly Trinitarian…involving all three members of the God-head: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We notice this most clearly in Hebrews 1.
- Salvation-proclaiming: These songs all proclaim SALVATION from sin! (cf. Luke 1:77).
- Humility-motivating: The Kenosis (self-emptying) passage of Phil. 2 particularly highlights this. The Incarnation is intended to motivate humility in God’s Church!
- Cross-emphasizing: Philippians 2 also gives priority to the cross of Christ. Christmas is meaningless apart from the cross.
- Death, fear, Satan-destroying: Here I simply quote Hebrews 2:14-15:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
As you read through these passages this year, use them as a model for your own song of Christmas. If you write one, I’d love for you to share it here!