Joy to the World: The hidden power of Christmas music

“I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”. – George Fredric Handel, spoken in tears as he finished composing the “Hallelujah” chorus of Messiah.

Music and Christmas are inseparable.

We know the holiday season has started when we hear the familiar tunes on our radios and in retail stores, and see them requested in our programs and performances.

For musicians, it can get a little wearisome performing the same songs year after year. However, we can never forget the reason why music is so relevant to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

While most of the world was unaware of the King of Kings being born in a stable, the heavens were rejoicing. The famous appearance of the angels to the shepherds was accompanied by music and praise. That precedent has continued to this day. Any time Christ’s presence is announced, there is a good chance someone is praising Him in song.

Of course, many famous Christmas songs are not about Christ. That doesn’t negate the fact that without music, our celebrations would not be complete. Christmas is the only time of year that people from all sorts of cultures embrace a shared love of a single repertoire of music. That’s not by accident. Christ came to reconcile us to Himself and to each other. In a small way, our collective love of holiday music reinforces the greater purpose that this season represents.

It’s hard to hate someone that is singing the same song you are singing.

As musicians, we should enjoy and embrace the opportunity to help people rejoice, reflect, and find peace through music in each holiday season.   Most importantly, we should remember that every time we perform in honor of the Christ child, we echo the sentiments of the angels on that first evening of His earthly existence:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

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