Monday, November 5, 2012

Singing the Theology of Christmas

Dr. Bert Polman, Ordinary Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Calvin College, writes

...If you take a few moments to page through the Christmas carols and hymns in almost any hymnal, you’ll find that narrative and folksy, sentimental lyrics easily outweigh songs with a theological treatment of the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. We’re served with “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” “Silent Night, Holy Night,” and their many equivalents, for better or for worse. The theological profundity of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is rare among our Christmas songs.

After you’re done paging through the Christmas section of your hymnal, I invite you to take a look at the Easter section too—just for comparison. In that section you’re likely to find numerous theological convictions about the resurrection of Christ, relatively few narrative Easter hymns, and no sentimental ones. While you’re at it, recall the kinds of Christmas cards you receive and send out, and contrast those with the Easter cards you may have seen. Most likely you’ll notice a similar pattern there: the Easter cards are far more likely to focus on theological themes than are the Christmas cards.

I believe we could use a few more theologically exact lyrics for Christmas...

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