I sing all the verses at Christmas
It is the music that makes it feel like Christmas to me. To the chagrin of my family, I turn on the Christmas stations and put in the Christmas CDs and hum along with the songs piped in at the mall. I am positively impossible at Christmastime.
But this year is not like previous Christmas seasons. Because I have a law student living at home studying for exams. She wants it quiet. So, out of respect, I have silenced the stereo. “Use your headphones, Mom,” she says. Because this is what all young people do, listen to their own music through their own ears, so as not to disturb anyone.
This is respectful, I guess, but it’s not Christmas. Because I like to sing along. And, different from all other songs in all other seasons, at Christmastime I know all the verses. Perhaps this is because I have sung them since childhood. Or because they are the same songs, year after year. I don’t bother much with the new ones; I like the old favorites. They’re embedded in my memory banks. One verse just flows out after the other.
And of course, there’s the aftershock…After I hear them and sing them, they keep playing in my head and I keep right on singing. Ah, yes, my family dearly loves this.
I broke all the rules last night and pulled out the old hymnal, playing the tunes…Joy To the World, What Child is This? Away in a Manger, Angels We Have Heard on High, on my heirloom baby grand piano. And lo and behold, my daughter the law student applauded and asked for an encore from the other room where she was still studying. I played Silent Night.
There is just something about Christmas music. The tunes, yes. The timing, yes. But I think that the very sneaky or very wise God planted a message in the music that speaks to us in a unique way. It settles deep and stays with us. So that even I can remember the verses. Not just the melody in the first verse, but the message all the way to the last.
I am reminded again of this as I sing and hum to Away in a Manger.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes;
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
The last verse is a special favorite. It calls back to mind many, many tender bedtimes when I sang this with my youngest daughter, then so small. Bless all the dear children, indeed. And fit us for heaven – shape us just right for the ever after you have planned.
Some of the “updated” versions sing “bring us to heaven.” Perhaps bringing and fitting are the same thing to some folks, but not to me. I prefer the old way. Making us fit for the Kingdom seems a lifetime in coming. “Bring us” seems so…passive, on our parts. It is the end of the song, but is the end of the story? the beginning? or somewhere in between?
In a manger 2000 years ago, a baby was born. He’ll be born again this Christmas. In me. In my daughters. In my household. In my world. What a merciful Savior we have. To help us remember to the very end of the song.
Posted on December 13, 2013, in Body, Instinct and tagged Away in a Manger, Baby Jesus, children, Christmas, Christmas carols, God, hymns, Jesus, memory, music, singing, song, story. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.