I couldn’t believe it.
While driving up I-85 north heading to Gaffney, S.C., Nov. 2 to lead a graveside service, I ran across Bing Crosby on “The Carolinas’ Christmas Station.”
FULL-TIME CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON NOVEMBER 2! Many people have longed for Christmas since before Halloween. After this tough election, after weeks of enduring cutthroat political ads, we’re yearning for some Christmas cheer.
Great music helps bring on the cheer. Our church family looks forward to our choir’s Christmas musical (coming up this Sunday) each year and the guest artists we bring in for a Christmas concert. This year we’re having Shelly Johnson Dec. 9.
I love hearing and singing the music of Christmas. Topping my “favorites” are “Oh Holy Night,” “Joy to the World,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and most of the traditional carols we grew up with. I love the sound of the Sunday congregation singing carols together in worship.
On the secular side, just about anything from the Carpenter’s, and most pieces sung by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra contribute to the warmth of the season. It’s hard to beat Bing singing “White Christmas” and Nat King Cole singing about chestnuts roasting on the open fire.
I also have a growing list of tunes we can skip. These are songs that make you turn the channel as soon as you recognize them. Only, once you hear it, these aggravating tunes seep into your brain and pop into your thoughts 100 times a day.
For example, Elvis singing “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You.” I have no qualm with Elvis but my Christmas morale takes a dip the minute I hear that song. And why do stations have to play “Feliz Navidad” 1,000 times a Christmas season? I can do without “Christmas in Killarney” and “Christmas Island.” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was never really that cute. The dogs barking “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Baby” and anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks I can live without.
Music has been a part of the Christmas celebration since the original holy night. Music fills the Christmas story. The angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds, then filled the sky and sang, “glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, goodwill to all men” (Luke 2:14). Technically, the text says the angels spoke these words, but I like to think of it as a song because they were praising God.
Mary sang what is known as the “Magnificat” in response to the news that she would be the mother of the coming Messiah. This peasant girl lifted a song of rejoicing that God would remember the lowly. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, sang a song praising God for His coming deliverance. Simeon, who was promised a look at the Messiah before his death, held the baby in his arms and sang a song of praise that God kept His promise.
The greatest song of Christmas does not leap from our lips or dance around in our heads. It’s the song imbedded in our hearts when we catch the true spirit of Christmas. It’s a song that springs from the presence of Jesus Himself, the Christ of Christmas.
Hugh Litchfield wrote about a lady who lived in a rundown section of Richmond, Virginia. She was old and her body ached from arthritis. She was almost an invalid. But there was one thing about her that people never forgot. She was a singer, and whenever people visited her, she was always listening to music. She always wanted guests to sing a song with her and she always had a song to sing for her guests.
At her funeral, her pastor said, “Mrs. Jacobs always had a song in her heart, and the reason she always had a song in her heart was because Christ was there to help her sing it.” That’s what Christmas means. When Jesus lives within, there’s music in our lives year-round. He’s the song of Christmas that keeps on singing.
(Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, 352 McDonough Road, Fayetteville, near McCurry Park. The church family invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Join them for the Christmas Eve candlelight service at 5 p.m. Visit on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and like them on Facebook.)