Almost since we put away last year’s Christmas decorations, Benjamin has been asking to go caroling. (He must have seen it on TV because caroling is not something my non-musical family would ever think to do.) He kept bringing it up, so I recruited a few friends who can sing and the eight of us visited a couple of our neighbors on the snowy-est, coldest night we’ve had so far.
I wore a jingle bell necklace to distract people from my inability to sing on key, and the kids danced on the sidewalk. (Colt even made snow angels in each yard.)
And you know what?
It was fun.
And it meant an awful lot to my 6-year-old.
Today I have the honor of turning the blog over to Jennifer Shaw, a pianist and top 40 Billboard artist, who writes about the power of classic carols and how they can help prepare our hearts for Christmas.
You know, in our culture, music is so often background sound. They pipe it into shopping malls and play it on elevators. You really can’t go many places at Christmas without hearing music. And so many of the songs are just part of our cultural DNA. We’ve heard these songs since we were little, and we associate them with Christmas, which also usually means we associate them with strong emotions and memories.
But if you really stop and listen to the words of the classic Christian Christmas songs, so many of them are absolutely amazing. They really help to keep me focused on the meaning of the season. I’m not sure why music moves people the way it does, but the truth is that we were wired by God to respond. No one is unaffected by music. Even people who don’t think they care are influenced with different emotions by the score in a movie, or by hearing the song that was playing when their heart got broken in high school.
The reason Christmas music is so profound is that it couples that basic human capacity to be moved by music with cultural and family traditions and experiences. Add to that lyrics that proclaim to the world that God has sent His Son to us as the greatest gift ever given, and you have something with the power to move people deeply.
With all that said, how would I tell people to let music help them slow down and prepare for the coming of Christ? I would tell them to stop and actually listen to the words. Think about them. Don’t let it be background noise – let it be the prayer of your heart. Make it a time of worship. You’ll be surprised how quickly it brings you out of the busyness and into the profound.