The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     For many people, the celebration of Christmas would seem somewhat incomplete and empty without music. In a normal year, churches would have begun preparing a Christmas cantata or other musical offering in late summer or early fall. Then, during the first two or three weeks in December, choirs and orchestras would present the message of Christmas through the music of Christmas. Because 2020 has been far from normal, most choir lofts probably will not be filled by angelic voices heralding the message of Christmas in song. Nonetheless, Christmas is coming and the music of Christmas stirs the hearts of believers around the globe!
     The music of Christmas Abounds with Expectation.  I was fortunate to grow up in an era when youth choir was encouraged and played a meaningful role in the spiritual development of teenagers. Although I come from a musical family and I love to sing, occasionally the repertoire of my youth choir included a song that was not anyone’s favorite. “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” was such a song due to a slow tempo, difficulty in singing, and lack of the kind of rhythmic pizzazz favored by teenagers. As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), I now appreciate how this hymn emphasizes the anticipated and expected entry into the world of the Messiah about whom the prophets foretold. I still remember the tenor line while singing:

“Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming From tender stem hath sprung!

Of Jesse’s lineage coming As men of old have sung.

It came, a flow’ret bright, Amid the cold of winter When half spent was the night.”

     Two other songs that abound with expectation are “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” While more familiar than “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” the words presented in this pair likewise express an expectant longing for the coming Lord.   
     The music of Christmas continues with “The First Noel.” Meaning “to be born” or “birthday,” this noel announcement to the shepherds Resounds with Exaltation as a heavenly host joined in worship.  We exalt Jesus, the newborn King through the music of Christmas! Like the angelic chorus that praised God with “Gloria
in excelsis Deo,” we sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Joy to the World! The Lord is Come,” “Good Christian Men, Rejoice,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “The Birthday of a King” as we worship the “Savior…Christ the Lord.”
     Ten years ago, I gathered with about 20 members of a Junior High Sunday School class for an evening of Christmas caroling. Most, if not all, of these young people had been involved in church their entire lives. As the students piled onto a flatbed trailer, they were equipped with sufficient energy and enthusiasm to embrace this ministry project.
     At the first house I attempted to lead the group to sing age-old Christmas carols such as “Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Joy to the World!” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger,” and “Go, Tell It On the Mountain.” Surprisingly, most of the young carolers struggled with the words to these Christmas classics. Someone suggested that we sing “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.” Others wholeheartedly agreed and the majority of the evening was spent singing those two songs along with “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
     That caroling experience reminded me of the need to reevaluate personal priorities and the influence that
my life is having on others both in the present and for all eternity. I hear afresh the words of Jesus “Go…make disciples…baptize them…teach them….” I am reminded anew that the music of Christmas Surrounds Us with Exhortation to “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere; Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!”