Summary: Pre-Christmas singing should characterize us as believers. Even those who cannot carry a tune can enjoy music, for love always produces some kind of song.
At an evening of musical entertainment one of the guests was not impressed with the woman who
was singing. He leaned over to the man next to him and said, "What an awful voice. I wonder who
she is?" "She is my wife," was the stiff reply." "Oh, I'm sorry," he apologized. "Of course its really
not her voice but that terrible stuff she has to sing. I wonder who wrote that ghastly song?" "I did,"
was the even stiffer reply. This singer was apparently something other than the one Shakespeare had
in mind when he wrote, "The rude sea grew civil at her song, and certain stars shot madly from their
spheres to hear the sea-maids music."
She certainly had less to offer than the singer of whom Hawthorne wrote: "She poured out the
liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of his spirit." Her category was probably more fittingly
described by Coleridge when he said, "Swans sing before they die-Twere no bad thing should certain
persons die before they sing." It is with qualifications, and with an awareness of exceptions that we
can agree with William Stidger who said, "Music is the voice of God." The facts of life and
revelation compel us to recognize that God is a God of harmony and song. He has built music into
the very nature of His creation. The angel sang at the commencement of creation, and the whole
company of the redeemed will join in a triumphant chorus at the consummation of creation. In
between these two universal concerts the pathway of God's providence in history is crowded with the
saints singing songs of praise and thanksgiving. God supplies the music, and John Drinkwater
pictures all of creation as the great organ of God when he writes, "God is at the organ. I can hear a
mighty music echoing far and near."
For those whose eyes and ears are open to the wonder, beauty and harmony of creation, music is
ever present, and they can sing, "This is my father's world and to my listening ears all nature sings
and round me rings the music of the spheres." The greatest songs arise, however, when God plays
the music of redemption. The songs of salvation are the sweetest and the ones most filled with joy.
When Israel was delivered out of Egypt we read in Ex. 15:1, "Then sang Moses and the children of
Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed
gloriously..." The Old Testament is filled with songs of praise, and this music not only carries over
into the New Testament but is lifted to an even higher pitch. The songs of the saints for salvation far
surpass the tunes of nature. Drinkwater wrote, "The universe is God's full organ; human lips and
human lives are the solo stops."
One of the greatest soloists of all is one we seldom think of as a singer, and yet she is the author
and singer of the first great song of the New Testament, and the first pre-Christmas song. This is an
honor few of us have ever thought of in connection with the Virgin Mary. For 14 centuries this song
has been used in liturgies for public worship. Luke is the scholar who has done much research to
open up to us insights and truths, which the other Gospel writers do not have. As a doctor he is
naturally interested in digging back into family history. He is especially fascinated by the events
surrounding births. He may have specialized in babies. He is the only one who tells us of the
background of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. He even gives remarkable facts concerning
the pre-natal leaping of John in his mother's womb. Luke is not just satisfying his professional
curiosity. It is obvious that one of his major purposes is to show that Christianity was born in a
burst of sacred song. He alone, as the educated and cultured Greek, preserved for us the songs of
those directly connected with the coming of Christ.
We can consider this Dr. Luke's prescription for a sick and needy world. He knew the value of
song for the health of the soul, and his first chapters are filled with the spiritual medicine of music.
The song of the angels is the best known because it is most often used in Christmas events. The first
pre-Christmas songs, however, came from earth, and Mary's song called the Magnificate is the
greatest. Ross said, "For sheer overflowing gladness, there is scarcely any hymn, ancient or modern,
to compare with it." This is probably an overstatement, for all agree that Mary's song is almost
totally grounded in the Old Testament. The sun of righteousness has not yet risen. He is still below