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Why Sing Christmas Songs in Times of Strife?

Guideposts Executive Editor Rick Hamlin shares how singing Christmas songs can heal the soul.

Christmas music heals the soul in tough times | Guideposts
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This morning at our men’s breakfast at church, we went around the table asking for people’s prayer concerns, and by far the biggest issue was prayer for those suffering from a spate of violence and shootings. “How can I pray for myself when I read about all these innocent people being killed?” said one guy. “My prayer is for the next victim, one we don’t even know about yet,” said another.

How do we celebrate Christmas when all we seem to hear is frightening news?  How can we believe in the Prince of Peace when everywhere we hear of violence? Should we make our Christmas something more solemn and muted?  Why sing now?

I’ve been singing Christmas songs around the city and posting them for Advent. Was this counter-productive? Did it go against the current mood? As I left the men’s breakfast, I took out some lyrics to practice and sang them to myself, “Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why these songs of happy cheer?” Why, indeed, I thought.

Then I kept thinking of those shepherds out in their fields and what a turbulent time that was. Our Savior came into a frighteningly violent era. Some two thousand Jewish rebels were crucified by the Romans shortly before Jesus was born. Imagine what that must have felt like in this small state subservient to its Roman rulers.

And look at Herod and his violent ways. When the wise men told him about a baby born to be a king, he was so jealous he had every male child two years old or younger murdered. Slaughtered. Mary and Joseph had to escape to Egypt to be safe. They could only come back when Herod died.

Perhaps that’s why the shepherds were initially frightened when the angels appeared in the sky. Was this more bad news? Was this some herald of disaster and more killings? 

“Don’t be afraid!” said the angel.  “I bring you good news – wonderful, joyous news for all people.”

“Bring your peace into our violence,” goes the lyric of one song I’ve been singing, “Welcome to our world.” 

We’ve never needed Jesus more than now. This is the time to welcome God. This is the moment when Jesus is necessary. 

Or as another chorus goes: “Glo—o-o-ria in excelsis deo.”

So I’m singing this Christmas and you should sing too. We sing for peace and that peace will come into our violence. Welcome to our world, Jesus.  It’s not the world we wish it were.  It’s not what we’ve prayed for. We need you. We need you now. We welcome you with songs.

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