“Joy to the World the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” “Away in the Manger…” “O Come All Ye Faithful…” Last evening I had the joy and privilege of joining with a number of students from the college in Christmas caroling in the neighborhoods around the campus. It was cold (30s), it was dark (so you could not really read the music books), and it was fun. We found houses with people at the doors, houses with people waving at the windows, people who weren’t home and little dogs waging their tails or barking right along. You know; all the things that make caroling, caroling. We ended with some cookies and hot chocolate and cider supplied and shared by some of the wonderful people in a local senior housing neighborhood. I think the singing faded a bit while the students enjoyed the refreshments; at least until we made our final greetings with a “Wish you a Merry Christmas!”
Throughout the night I found myself surprised however. I discovered three quarters of the group I was with had never gone caroling before. They did not know all things I spoke of above were part of caroling. Many of them did not know some or any of the songs that we were singing. “Rudolph” seemed more familiar than “Away in a Manger.”
I understand that there may be many reasons for all this and I am not really arguing for a turning back in time to match up with a certain time period of celebration in our country, but I did find myself a little sad; not so much with the lessening of Christmas caroling per se, but more at the reality that something of the message of Christmas is not being passed down through the generations when the songs of Christmas are not known.
So here a few weeks before Christmas I just want to do my part to invite everyone to sing. Whenever you hear a caroler or choir singing, join in the song. What we sing is important to us, perhaps in a different way than what we talk about. What we sing about has power to shape us and guide us for it sticks with us throughout our lives. So let me advocate for the singing Christmas carols this Christmas season. The first Christmas started with singing (Luke 2:1-20). Listen again, learn again, tell the story again as you sing with joy in your hearts!