S120201 The best Christmas song --Romans survey
What is the best Christmas song ever written?
The Messiah by Handel,Joy to the world, Silent night, Away in a manger, Jingle bells . . .
What is the Worst Song: For me it is anything sung by a chipmunk. How about, "Momma got runned over by a reindeer." “Santa Clause is coming to town” The problem is not with Santa, but with the message of the song-“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout etc.” God is not like Santa Clause. His love is for both the naughty and the nice.
Songs that touch lives,span culture and defy time have found a way to marry the prefect melody and rhythm with the right words. Notice how the melody and the words of Silent Night seem intimately connected. The rhythm of Jingle Bells is a horse trotting pulling a sleigh with bells jingling. You want to take a sip of your hot cider and snuggle down in an oversized chair as you listen to these words, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
If we were writing the best Country Western Song we would have to include these themes: red pickups, cowboys, momma, prison, saloons, trains, extra-marital affairs, ex wives, job insecurity, bar fights and beer.
I believe “White Christmas” is the most popular Christmas song ever. It touches all our emotional buttons like: nostalgia, friends and family, hope, peace and optimism.
Lets you and I write the best Christmas song ever written:
What message should the best Christmas song ever written present?
It has to tell the truth about the human condition
Romans 3:10-18 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."13 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips."14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;16 ruin and misery mark their ways,17 and the way of peace they do not know."18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
The melody for this theme must be carried with dissonant chords in a minor key. It must emote sadness, regret, shame, guilt, disease, putrefying stench, numbing coldness, disappointment and failure.
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden and from the presence of God must dominate words, rhythm and melody.
The song will have to deal with the question, “What hope is there for humanity?”, in painful and thunderous dissonance and chaos.
It must remember the screams of parents as Herod tried to wipe out the newborn king in Bethlehem. Don’t forget the Roman, Antiochus Epiphanies, killing the Jewish children and destroying Jerusalem in 70 AD. The bloodlust of the Roman circus as the faithful died for the cause. It can’t leave out the despair of the Middle Ages in Europe.
It will be soured by the sounds of the disruption as we moved the American Indian off his land, and the enslaved the Africans to work our plantations. It will force the stench from Hitler’s furnaces into our musical nostrils. It will remind us of pale, and coughing children who worked 18 hours a day in smoke filled-dark factories. We will hear the cries of soldiers caught in World War struggles dying in pain away from loved ones. It will employ silence to speak for uncounted aborted babies and nations experiencing the empty stomach of genocide so that some multi-national corporation can show a profit. It must see the invisible person standing at the edge of a society to stingy to provide adequate mental health care. It needs to notice the plight of the single parent and the child whose parents said they would and then they didn’t.
Our sad song must reflect the shock and shame of a pregnant teenager who lived all her life bombarded with messages we allowed our children to hear that shouted premarital sex is the thing to do--as long as it is safe sex.
It will feel the sickening crash as planes impact skyscrapers and searing heat and choking smoke kill thousands. It will remember the lost potential by a male dominated society that has freed everyone but it’s women.
Our song must not lie! It must understand the utter hopelessness of the creation called human being. We were created for such joy, and we have brought such pain.
We will now leave the first theme. God does not want us to stay there. He has worked out a way that potentially can change everything.
It must carry the message of redemption--Romans 8:1-3 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Bach, or Bill Gaither, should write the redemption theme. They are orderly, optimistic and determined.
This theme needs a major mode to carry the section, but will require diversity present the changing moods and emotions of the redemption story.
The process of redemption is the life story of Jesus
The redemption story begins with a promise God makes to Adam and Eve. Some grandchild of theirs will receive a wound that will kill the enemy of man. Obscure!
OT prophets occasionally picked up the theme of one that was coming that would turn everything around for mankind. The prophets foretold his ancestry, birthplace, his temperament, his mother’s strange pregnancy, His birth, His life, His miracles, His teaching, His death, His resurrection, and His return.
This theme starts with a tremendous fury of activity that very quickly settles into near silence. The silence will be broken occasionally by trumpet proclamations of truth. The silence will be broken in mid theme by the sound of angels announcing to shepherds the birth of “The Son of God”.
The rhythm will pick up as the child becomes a boy and later a man.
We need to instruct the musicians to play and sing with unusual clarity. His words will stand in direct contradiction to all the music the world has ever heard before. They will seem so good that they could not possibly be true, so we must repeat them again and again until everyone understands.
The music reaches a fevered pitch as Jesus draws near to Gethsemane and Calvary. It must come to a very obvious conclusion as we feel completion of a work of unimaginable magnitude. We must hear, “It is finished” with our mind, body and eternal spirit.
The song now has a profound section of silence as the sun becomes dark and Jesus pays the price for the sins of man and the Lamb of God lies silently, sin covered, dead, rejected by man and God, alone in a borrowed tomb.
“It is finished” can decrescendo and be repeated over and again in ever diminishing profound whispers. “It is finished.” It is finished. . .It is finished . finished.
If we were going to add a touch of drama we might leave the slightest question hanging in the air as we allow our audience to ask the question, “What is finished?” We will answer that eternal question in the next section.
Our song will need to celebrate the surprising theme of hope--Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Jesus wasn’t finished! He was very much alive as the Father gave him life.
His work of redemption was finished, not his personas. We have to receive his redemption as a complete process with no human fingerprints on it anywhere.
Jesus is alive. By faith in Jesus we too can survive death!
Hope is the big surprise in this story, so we need music that reflects a sudden change in mood. The events of Sunday morning set humanity on its heels. Could it be true? What a surprise.
I hear a black choir singing and the Blues Brothers playing with profound energy, sweat, swaying motion and high pitched emotion-‘In that great getting’ up morning” This music must be played loud! It has to be energetic presented with emotion.
I heard how a black preacher preached a funeral with power. He stood behind the pulpit and told the congregation about the saving work of Jesus. Then he walked to the family and preached from John 14 about the mansions in heaven prepared for those who love Jesus. Finally, the preacher walked to the casket and preached to the dead man for 20 minutes. The dead man was Clarence. The preacher went on about how he wanted to thank Clarence for all his love, gifts and acts of selflessness to the church and the community. When he had said all he could think of about Clarence he said, “Clarence, I’m done.” When your done it is time to quit. So Clarence, we don’t say good bye because we will see you again. So I say, ”Good night Clarence” and with that he slammed the lid on the casket and the choir erupted with song. “In that great getting up mornin’ we shall rise.” And with joy and expectation they took Clarence to the cemetery where his body waits for the resurrection. That is the way to have a funeral.
I see dancers doing jumps, and twists for joy. I see works of art depicting unspeakable happiness and eternal praise in bold reds, yellows, greens and white. A flight of blue angels streaks overhead. The Calvary rides the trail. The sun comes out from behind a cloud after three days of rain. Ed McMan is ringing your doorbell.
Was it F.J. Hyden who wrote “The surprise symphony”? Maybe we should hire him to help us with this section.
The phrases of the music must present newfound confidence. The weak places now are strong. The broken -fixed. The lost—found. The divided—together. The impossible—possible.
We can look for inspiration to a cancer patient that has just been declared free from cancer. We can see the expressions of a family who just takes the key to their habitat for humanity house and opens the door for the first time on a home of their own. We can see hope in the eyes of a childless couple who just sees their adopted daughter for the first time. We can find hope in lots of places, but hope does not exist if Jesus had stayed in the ground.
How do you end such a song? Everything has been said. Every human emotion has been touched. The awful truth has been faced-God’s amazing grace presented in the death of His son and the surprise event of resurrection celebrated.
It would have to end by asking the most obvious question.
Which verse are you going to sing?
Reject the song and sing verse one forever.
Reject Christ and miss the great getting’ up morning
Receive Jesus with joy and sing verse three forever