"The First Christmas Carols"
by Tom Goodman
November 30, 2005
One of the things I like best about Christmas is the music. The “Christmas” playlist on my IPod contains over five hours of songs—from the silly to the sacred.
Many others must love Christmas music, too, because radio stations will convert their entire format to holiday music between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The upside: gospel truth gets piped into our culture. The downside: we have to
listen to “Christmas Shoes” three times a day for the next month! (Now I’m gonna get e-mails from all of you who love that song!)
We believers love to write songs about the Christmas story. Paul Baloche’s new song, “Offering” is destined to become a favorite in many congregations, while Kathy Mattea’s version of “Mary Did You Know” and Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” leave
me awestruck. I listen frequently to the City on a Hill CD, “It’s Christmastime” as well as this year’s CD “Come Let Us Adore Him: A Christmas Worship Experience.” These CDs feature new compositions from the musicians of bands like
Third Day, Caedmon’s Call, and Jars of Clay.
These newer songs simply join the musical testimony of Christians throughout two thousand years of church history. When we sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” or “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” we join hearts with Massachusetts Christians of the
We reach back and join John Wesley’s evangelistic vision in the 18th century when we sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”
Reaching even further back we clasp the hands of 16th-century English Christians as we join together in their favorite tune, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”
In the 13th century, devout Christians would perform nativity plays where they sang carols composed for the performance. After the plays, the actors would stroll around the community singing their compositions.
Earlier than that, 5th-century priests would stroll around their parishes on Christmas Eve singing long-forgotten carols in Latin.
Even earlier than that, in the 2nd century, the bishop in Rome sent out a letter urging his people to “sing in celebration of the birthday of our Lord.”
But did you know that Christmas songs existed even earlier than that? The characters in the Bible’s Christmas stories frequently break into song. Starting this Sunday and running straight to Christmas Sunday morning, we’ll celebrate
around these very first Christmas carols. I begin this Sunday, December 4, with “Mary’s Christmas Carol” as found in Luke 1:46-55.
Send this newsletter to a friend with an invitation to—
Come and worship
Come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn king!
P.S. My newsletter series on Either-Or Christianity will resume after the holidays.
Aslan is On the Move! The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe opens in area theaters next Friday, December 9. I’ll tell you more about it in next week’s Winning Ways. To get you ready, our Southern
Baptist publisher, Lifeway, has some great resources. Be sure to view the movie trailer at that site. You can also find trailers here (click
on Trailer #2).
Membership Class is This Week! Spread the word about our next Discover Hillcrest class. It will be held this Sunday, December 4, right after the morning service. LUNCH IS PROVIDED! The class is
for those who want to become members, and for those who just want to learn more about Hillcrest. While I teach the adult class, BJ teaches "Discover Hillcrest Kids" for children ages 8-12, and Jim teaches "Discover Hillcrest Youth"
for students in grades 6-12. Childcare is provided for children under the age of 8. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. You can register by contacting our Ministry Assistant, Jami, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New E-cards for Your Friends. You can view and send e-cards to your friends, inviting them to our Dessert Theater (December 9-11) and our Festival of
Music (December 18).
Do You Have a Forgiveness Story? An author friend of mine is looking for stories of forgiveness. If the story is used, names and geographical locations will be changed. Six things: (1) the incident that
created the problem, (2) why you chose to forgive, (3) how you forgave, (4) what happened after forgiveness in the days or years afterward, (5) how you benefited, (6) what was the number-one revelation that came as the result
of forgiving. You will receive the author’s book if your story is used.
Dessert Theater. The cast of One Bethlehem Night invites you to our annual Dessert Theater December 9-11 at 7:00 p.m. Click here for more
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