Editorial Note: As our gift to you this Christmas, we've curated a Spotify playlist as a way of entering more deeply through music into the mystery of the Incarnation. You can learn more about this music in this Church Life Journal article.
All around the world this Christmas season, Christians will be raising their voices in joyous praise, singing carols both old and new. Christmas music is unique in the liturgical music canon, because it becomes imprinted with the joys and sorrows of each holiday season; every year, there are carols that will never fail to bring a smile, but there are also carols that can pierce the heart by conjuring up memories of Christmases past or of loved ones long deceased. The beautiful thing is, the mystery of Christmas itself is capacious enough to hold all of it—the unbridled joy, the weariness, the uncertainty, even the sorrow, for all of these are found in the Gospel narratives of Christ’s birth.
Music helps us to express mysteries that are deeper than words, so naturally it holds a kind of pride of place in the celebration of Christmas. As we revisit our favorite carols this season, let us be grateful for the gifts of melody and harmony and rhythm that allow us to voice our greatest joys and our deepest longings. This Christmas, let us sing out our hope that one day we will see God face-to-face, just as Mary and Joseph did, just as the angels and shepherds and magi did when they gazed upon the face of Jesus Christ. Let us raise our voices in praise of God—the Father who sent his Son, the Son who became a defenseless, vulnerable Child, the Spirit through whom we are caught up in this eternal triune relationship of divine love, “evermore and evermore.”
Featured image: Carl Bloch (1834–1890), Annunciation to the Shepherds (1879); public domain.