Sing to the Lord this Christmas
Christmas would not be Christmas without God’s people gathering to sing Christmas carols. I am sure all of us equate Christmas with carols. It has been infused in us from a young age, whether through hearing the familiar tunes being played at the shopping mall at this time of year or hearing them sung Christmas Eve as we watch Carols by Candlelight live from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Such a rich heritage finds its beginnings, not in secular culture, nor in church history, but in the pages of Scripture.
If we reach all the way back into Israel’s history, in the Old Testament, we see a familiar pattern: whenever God showed His mercy of deliverance and redemption to His people, they responded in song. For example, when God delivered His people from the bondage of Egypt and Pharaoh’s powerful army Moses rejoiced in song (Exodus 15:1-18), and Miriam with him (15:21). Also, when God delivered His people from the Canaanites the prophetess Deborah broke out in song (Judges 5). God’s people immortalised God’s deliverance and redemption in song.
It should not surprise us then, that when God decided to visit His people and deliver them from their greatest enemy, sin, by sending His only Son, man and angels sang! Luke describes for us no less than four songs at the beginning of his gospel. The first song was sung by Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55). Mary sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). Her song portrays the mercy of God, who looked upon the poor state of His people and reversed their situation through her unborn Son. Jesus is the great reverser who scatters the proud and exalts the humble.
Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, sang the second song (1:68-79). He began saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (1:68). Zechariah saw the coming of Christ as God’s great deliverer, giving light and peace to those who dwell in darkness through the forgiveness of sin.
Not even the angels could control themselves as they marvelled at the incarnation. For Luke states that an angel met lowly shepherds in the fields to share the news of the incarnation before “there was … a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (2:13-14). Heaven could not contain herself as the praise invaded earth and declared to these outcasts of society that unto them was born “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (2:11).
Lastly, there is Simeon’s song. The Lord enabled this old man to recognise the identity of the Lord of Glory, and with Holy Spirit unction, Simeon sang out, “… my eyes have seen your salvation, that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (2:30-32). Simeon held baby Jesus and by faith believed! And with that simple faith his heart sang out, his soul was complete, and he could “depart in peace” (2:29).
As we consider the miraculous incarnation, God with us, this Christmas, let us all respond to God’s deliverance and redemption of our sins in the same way as Mary, Zachariah, Simeon, and a multitude of angels. Let us be found singing – alone, with the family, or with the church – rich words of praise to our King, Deliverer, Saviour, and Lord. And as we sing, know that one day, when this earth gives way to a new heaven and a new earth, there the redeemed, from every tribe and language and people and nation will gather to sing a new song to the Lord (Rev 5:9-10). This will be the song of complete and final redemption and eternal reign with our Saviour Jesus.
Pastor Craig Baxter