We are entering the season of Christmas and those wonderful old hymns are all around us. You have to grin a bit when you realize that our very secular world is playing Christ honoring music. Everyday, the message that the Messiah has come (in the form of a baby in the manger) is being subliminally pounded into the minds of men and women and they are humming along.
Regardless of someone’s religious background (or the lack thereof), I will wager that very few adults cannot sing several verses of hymns like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
Charles Wesley wrote more than 6500 hymns but this one might be one of his most famous. It was penned about a year after his conversion (1739). And like most of his works, it was a condensed course in biblical doctrine.
As one writer said, “These hymns were composed in order that men and women might sing their way, not only into experience, but also into knowledge…that the culture might have their culture baptized and the ignorant might be led into truth by the gentle hand of melody and rhyme.”
Consider the words of the third stanza: “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, Hail the Son of Righteousness. Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born king.”
“Born that men no more may die,” now there’s a message for the season.
This week, every time you hear a traditional hymn don’t just hum along, try to sing the words and pay attention to what they are conveying.
If you don’t have a songbook at home, get one. I have several and use them as a wonderful devotional guide. From time to time, I just grab one and sing my way through the pages of those old treasured hymns. They spark a warm and meaningful response in my heart.
Let “Hark “and “Little Town” and “Silent” and “Away” and all the other carols (bet you know what hymns I am referring to…) refresh your understanding of the message of Christ’s birth. That term “carol” is derived from a word that means, “ring dance.” They were a form of folk music that was meant to stir the heart and the feet.
So let’s get moving this week and stir our hearts with the message of the hymns. Let’s sing our way into scriptural knowledge.