Commentary by Michael VandenBurg
This time of year is filled with the familiar melodies of our favorite Christmas Carols. We joyously sing them over and over at the top of our lungs until their words become engrained in our consciousness.
Music is a reflection of who we are, what our concerns are and where our hopes lie. Someone once described music as the deepest reflection of our souls. Music teaches, soothes, calls us to action, heals our grief, grieves our parents and revives our childhood. Music is the quiet, white space against the backdrop of our lives written in ink, never to be changed. Music is our worship in the temple of creative grace.
King David used music to express his deepest needs, greatest praise, most solemn remorse and his longing cries to God for his constant help. He wrote his music in the Psalms or sacred songs of the older testament of the Bible. He wrote of his emotions of despair after committing murder, his elation after winning in battle, his joy in finding in God, a friend he could always trust, and so much more. The Psalms down through the centuries have been one of the most loved books, not only of the Bible but as literature. Its popularity is, I am sure, due to the way it not only presented King David’s emotions but ours in such clarity.
It used to be that the church worldwide had a repertoire of songs that everyone knew and sang with gusto. Now, it seems each congregation has its own songs, own favorites, and we have lost some of the unity with which we once sang. While I miss this unity in song, I love the fact that music is still a primary expression of our worship experience and is present in each and every congregation, reflecting for most part the messages of God.
As Advent progresses and Christmas approaches, I find great joy and comfort in once again being reminded of an enduring faith that spans time and generations. With the carols of the season, comes the joy of childhood, the pensive reflections of youth, the exuberance of young adulthood and the security of middle age, all projected into the expanse of life.
The Hallelujah Chorus breaking into the finality of both Christmas and Easter, the Angelic voices of that first Christmas in Hark the Herald Angels Sing and the resounding chorus of Joy to the World, bring flooding in a lifetime of Christmases.
May you prepare for the message of hope for the world, in the carols of the season, as you prepare your heart, even in song, for the coming of the Messiah.