Christmas

The Gospel According to Carols

 

This Christmas season I’ve been running a meme series on my social media pages called The Gospel According to Carols. Many of our favorite Christmas carols include the gospel, so this is a series of memes with gospel quotes from Christmas carols to help us keep our focus on the gospel during the hustle and bustle of the season.

Below, you’ll find all of the memes I’ve posted so far. The title of the carol precedes each meme(s) and is linked to a YouTube video of that carol. I’ll continue to add new memes through the 24th, so bookmark this article and keep checking back. In addition to sharing these around on social media to remind ourselves, our friends, and our family of the true reason for Christ’s incarnation, I thought of a few other ways you might like to use these.

Decorative Place Cards

In my article (and podcast) 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays, I mentioned printing out these Bible verse memes on thankfulness and placing one at each place setting on your Thanksgiving dinner table as a way of initiating gospel conversations. The Gospel According to Carols memes could be used in the same way at your Christmas party or dinner.

Christmas Cards and Gift Tags

Not crazy about the rapidly dwindling selection of Christmas cards at your local retailer? Choose one or more of these designs, print them out on card stock and use them for Christmas cards. Or, minimize them to gift tag size, add a “to” and a “from,” print them out on card stock, and use them for labeling all your Christmas gifts.

Party Game

Instead of “Name that Tune,” make it “Name that Carol” by reading the quote aloud and having your guests guess which Christmas carol it came from.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

 

Silent Night

 

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

 

Child in the Manger

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

The First Noel

 

Good Christian Men Rejoice

 

We Three Kings

 

Joy to the World

 

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

 

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

 

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

 

Glorious Impossible

Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Christmas – there’s no other holiday in which music plays such a major role. And what a blessing that so much of the music of Christmas centers around the incarnation of our Savior! At no other time of the year are you likely to turn on a secular radio station or walk into a store and hear songs about Jesus. It’s one of the things that makes Christmas music so special.

You’ve heard my picks for the ten worst Christmas songs (and volume 2!) and my top ten favorites, and you’ve asked for more! So, here, in no particular order, and according to nothing other than my own preferences, is my next round of nominations for the ten best Christmas songs ever.

(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of the songwriters or performers listed below, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.)

1.
Joy to the World

As Christians, many things in this life bring us sadness and discouragement: grief over our sin, prodigal children, death of loved ones, persecution, suffering. There is no better antidote to our sorrows than to focus on the joy we have in Christ. This is a beautiful, classical-style rendition of Joy to the World.

2.
Light of the Stable

I love this song’s upbeat focus on Jesus as Light, King, and Savior. I can almost imagine myself in Bethlehem, bowing down before my infant King.

3.
Silent Night

What Christmas music collective would be complete without Silent Night? Does your congregation sing this hymn at your Christmas Eve service or other special worship times? Grace Community Church does, and they sound just lovely.

4.
Come on Ring those Bells

Were you even a Christian in the 80’s if you didn’t have Evie’s Christmas album? This song probably sounds cheesy to younger ears today, but approaching the birth of Christ as “the greatest celebration of them all” definitely has a nice ring to it. (Yes, I went there. :0)

5.
Go Tell

There’s an undeniable evangelism motif in the story of Christ’s birth. Gabriel told Mary about Jesus. The angels told the shepherds the good news. And the shepherds…well they told everyone what they’d witnessed. That’s the theme of this Great Commission toe-tapper: GO. TELL.

6.
O Little Town of Bethlehem

In the eyes of the world, Bethlehem was nothing special. It wasn’t the center of commerce or the seat of governmental power. It was just a little town of no consequence. Until…Jesus. This song, sung so delightfully by these four brothers in Christ, reminds us that Jesus is what makes the ordinary… extraordinary.

7.
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

In a magnificent use of metaphor, this song casts Jesus Himself as the beautiful “star” of Bethlehem. And indeed, for Believers, Jesus is that “star divine,” lighting and guiding the way “unto the land of perfect day,” when we finally see Him, in all of His glory, face to face.

8.
Ordinary Baby

Jesus was fully God, but sometimes we forget that He was also fully man. And not just fully man, but an ordinary, nondescript man. He was approachable, not elite. Personable, not intimidating. Accessible to kings and paupers alike. The Erwin siblings deliver this simple song with smooth and mellow charm.

9.
We Are the Reason

The tradition of Christmas time gift giving is an homage to the gifts the wise men gave Jesus. But what about the “greatest gift of our lives” that Jesus gave us? He gave all He could give to us: His life, forgiveness of sin, salvation. Avalon handily dusts off this CCM classic and freshens it up for a 21st century audience.

10.
O Holy Night

Christ, the thrill of hope, entered our darkened world on that holy night so long ago. As the soft, plaintive melody gradually swells into a great and glorious crescendo, we are reminded of how long the world pined away in sin and error, punctuated by the resplendent arrival of her Savior and King, much the same way we await His second coming today.

 

Bonus Nomination: Best Christmas Album

This is largely a nostalgic, rather than theological, nomination. My favorite Christmas record album growing up was Have a Happy Holiday with Lorne Greene. If you appreciate a classic, masculine baritone, you’ll want to grab a copy. (I still have mine!)

In part 1 of the album – The Stories of Christmas – Lorne reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Gift of the MagiPart 2 – The Songs of Christmas – includes Home for the Holidays, Jingle Bells, Christmas Is A-Comin’and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Part 3 – The Holy Night: A Christmas Cantata – (below) is a reading of the birth narrative from the gospels interspersed with various Christmas carols. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I still do.

 

What’s your favorite Christmas song of all time?

Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 11, 2015Christmas 10 Best Songs

Christmas songs. Everybody’s got a favorite or two, or ten! I’ve given you my list of the ten worst (and volume 2!). Now, in no particular order (mostly), and according to nothing other than my own preferences, here are my nominations for the ten best Christmas songs ever.

(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of the songwriters or performers listed below, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.)

 

1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing– Ok, so this one is in a particular order. It’s my favorite because of the awesome gospel theology wrapped in ribbons of beautiful wording. Just a few of my favorite phrases:

God and sinners reconciled
Veiled in flesh the godhead see, hail th’ incarnate deity
Mild, He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth

2. It’s About the Cross– This is my favorite “non-carol” Christmas song. The beginning of the story is wonderful and great, but it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate. The incarnation of Christ has always been about the cross and the resurrection. I highly recommend the artists, Go Fish.

3. Handel’s Messiah– Yes, I know it’s way more than one song, but, having performed it several times, I can honestly say I love the whole thing. Much of it is Scripture (verbatim) set to some of the best music ever written for a choir. Phenomenal.

4. Glorious Impossible– One of the more recent Christmas songs out there, it’s chock full of allusions to Scripture and the gospel. I think the Gaither Vocal Band does a really nice job on it.

5. Angels We Have Heard on High– It adequately handles the Christmas narrative, but I have to admit, I love this song for the chorus. It has a beautiful, intricately-woven, nearly ethereal sounding harmonic structure, and a simple, yet profound message: “Glory to God in the highest.”

6. Jesus, What a Wonderful Child– Sometimes a great song is packed with good theology, and sometimes a great song expresses one simple idea. Jesus, What a Wonderful Child is one of the latter. If you’ve read the title, you’ve got the main idea. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!

7. Sweet Little Jesus Boy– I love how this song captures the idea that when Jesus came the first time, “we didn’t know who You were.” And nobody does it like Mahalia Jackson.

8. Christmas Offering– This song draws the parallel between the offerings of the wise men and our offering of worship, the gift our King most desires.

9. Christ is Born– I know, I know, it’s twangy and most people don’t like Southern Gospel music. That’s OK, I do. And you’ve gotta love a Christmas song that starts out with the Fall of Man.

10. Rejoice With Exceeding Great Joy– This is another one that made the list because of the music. The lyrics are a simple retelling of the journey of the magi, but the music just takes you right out to the desert and plops you down on a camel’s back.

What’s your pick for best Christmas song of all time?

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Originally published December 7, 2018

There are so many fun and joyful Christmas carols and songs we love to sing at this time of year …. and so many that drive us bonkers! The Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time has become an annual tradition here on the blog. But every year I get more and more suggestions of songs to add to the list. There sure are a lot of cringey Christmas tunes being crooned out there! You asked for it, so here it is – in no particular order – ten more of my top picks for worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas – I can just picture the artistic meetings that took place on this one: “We need a new Christmas song for your next album, John. Any ideas?” “How about a potential domestic violence case set to country music? That’ll fill everybody’s heart with Christmas cheer!” 

 

2. Dominick the Donkey
Dear Italy,
Please stick with what you do best – food.

 

3. Happy X-Mas, War is Over (So This Is Christmas) – Excuse me, but I think you’re looking for Woodstock. Go back several decades and hang a left.

 

4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Why not? I wanted a monkey for Christmas when I was a kid. I stand in solidarity with this kid and every other kid who wanted a ridiculous animal for Christmas and never got one. (To be honest, I think this song is kinda cute {be sure to catch grown-up Gayla singing it at the end of the video}. I include it on behalf of all my readers who said it’s driving them to the loony bin.)

 

5. Hard Candy Christmas – Maybe I’ll wallpaper my bathroom. Maybe I’ll get a mohawk. Maybe I’ll eat cold Spaghettios right out of the can. MAKE👏UP👏YOUR👏MIND👏

 

6. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time – There’s good 80’s synthesizer and there’s bad 80’s synthesizer. I’ll let you guess which one earned this song a spot on the list.

 

7. White Winter Hymnal – “It’s lyrically fairly meaningless.” That’s what the songwriter had to say about this song. Dude, lemme ‘splain you something about songwriting. When you have a cool piece of music like this, don’t waste it on meaningless lyrics. Collaborate with a good writer and make it an awesome song with meaning. (Let me also take this opportunity for my annual reminder: Pentatonix is not a Christian group, regardless of the songs they record. According to Pride magazine, “Two of Pentatonix’s members, Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi, are openly gay, and the group vocally supports the LGBT community.)

 

8. Driving Home for Christmas – This song is the musical equivalent of driving across west Texas. And by that, I mean – monotonous. (Sorry west Texas, but you know it’s true.) At least he didn’t regale us with the number of each mile marker as he passed it. Thank the Lord for small favors.

 

9. I’m Gettin’ Nuttin for Christmas – Quick! Somebody get the rod of correction – this kid is out of control! Cute, but not your best work, Shirl.

 

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Kid witnesses Mom stepping out on Dad and is traumatized for life. Just one more reason not to lie to your kids about Santa Claus. (Tell them it’s Dad, ladies, and you can kiss him all you want! :0)

 

What do you think? Did your “worst song” make the list?

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 12, 2014christmas 10

For me, part of the reason Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” is the music. There are the old favorites as well as some great new songs that have come out over the years. Unfortunately, there are some stinkers out there, too. Everybody has her own taste, so the songs that give you the Christmas crazies are probably different from the ones that get on my nerves, but, here, in no particular order, are my ten picks for the worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. The Christmas Shoes– Hi, we’re going to write a song that’s a blatant attempt at emotional manipulation, and then if you say you don’t like it, people will think you’re heartless. Merry Christmas.

 

2. Last Christmas– Really? We have to listen to co-dependent whining about a break up in a Christmas song? And from Wham?

 

3. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer– This has such a catchy tune. It’s too bad the family in this song belongs on Jerry Springer.

 

4. Same Old Lang Syne– This is my pick for the absolute worst “Christmas” song (it really has nothing to do with Christmas) of all time. The only good thing I can say about this is, at least the people in the song didn’t actually have an affair. It’s bleak, it’s immoral, it’s depressing, and it’s the same four bars of melody over. and. over. and. over.

 

5. Must Have Been Old Santa Claus– “Happy ho, ho, ho to you.” Four million times. Kill me. Kill me now.

 

6. Baby, It’s Cold Outside– Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like attempted date rape by a drink drugging letch.

 

7. Santa Baby– They could have named this song “Sugar Daddy” or “Implied Sexual Favors in Exchange for Obscenely Expensive Gifts.” Same thing.

 

8. Mistletoe– I’m just going to make a rule right here, right now: no Christmas songs that force middle-aged people to go to Urban Dictionary to understand the lyrics. My kids had to explain to me what “shawty” means. Apparently, it’s similar to a “bae.”

 

9. Do They Know It’s Christmas?– Stop having Christmasy fun RIGHT NOW. Just STOP IT. Don’t you know there are people starving in Africa, you soulless oaf? And, seriously, who puts the word “doom” in a Christmas song?

 

10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Canon– It pains me to list this one because I love TSO, I love children’s choirs, I love Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and I love the idea of trying to Christmas it up. But I would rather eat a ten year old fruitcake than listen to this.

 

 Agree? Disagree?
What do you think is the worst Christmas song of all time?

If you love to hate these 10, be sure to stop back by the blog on Friday for volume 2 of Top 10 Worst Christmas songs of all time!