Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music at Christmas

   Jingle Bells, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, and O Holy Night are just a few of the dozens of songs that we have memorized and treasured. From Bing Crosby singing White Christmas to choirs on televisions singing carols in the background while families open presents, for most of us music and Christmas cannot be separated.  
   This is not new. Music has shaped the way we remember and pass along the story of Christmas to little ones. Music also played a prominent part in the actual Christmas story. We immediately think of shepherds watching their fields one night only to be startled by a commotion overhead. The Gospel of Luke goes on to say:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" 
- Luke 2:13-14
   But, in the spirit of Advent, it is worth talking about the music that went before Christmas morning. In truth, music played a significant role in preparing others for the coming of God's anointed One into the world. When the angel Gabriel came to a young girl in a forgotten village with news that would change her life and change history, her response was captured in a song. It is known today by the opening word from one of the ancient Latin translations, Magnificat. 
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 
- Luke 1:46-49
Mary's song here reminds me that sometimes music captures best the intentions and desires of my soul. 
   As Christmas approaches, what songs do you cherish? What parts of the story do you know best because of the songs you have memorized (verses about a red-nosed reindeer are not what I have in mind)? 
   Epworth keeps the tradition of music preparing us for the great celebration of Christmas going this weekend with our Service of Lessons and Carols. You will be delighted by nine passages of scripture that are followed by nine carols and songs of the season. You will not want to miss worship this weekend. And, of course, our Christmas Eve services on December 24 at 4:00 and 6:00 PM are such blessed times for your family and mine. I hope to see you soon and see you singing. 
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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