Listen to the Words - Introduction
Introducing "Listen to the words" blog series by Pastor Greg Crawford!
Christmas season is characterized by numerous features; colors of red and green, nativity scenes, crowded stores, festive meals, light displays, and a host of other items that fuel humanity’s yule-tide nostalgia. However, behind every Christmas tradition is a part of the season that should not be overlooked as it brings energy and life wherever it is found…the music. No party, movie, or display is truly Christmas-complete without a soundtrack of Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, or Deck the Halls, yet, for the Christian, music goes beyond nostalgia (or at least it should) and becomes an effective tool for theological reflection and worship.
The problem is that traditions can become so mundane that believers carry out these customs with little to no cognitive awareness of what they’re doing since they have become second nature. We do this all the time in everyday life. When we first started driving, we thought about every turn, fixated on equal spacing between the lines (the exact middle), and got a tad bit nervous when approaching a pod of other vehicles on the freeway. Yet, after driving for years, most people turn onto a busy highway while eating a cheeseburger with one hand and texting with the other, riding for miles with one tire over the line and their blinker on, and speeding towards the pod of cars to make sure they get around them before the passing lane ends. Whether that describes your habits or not, you should at least be able to admit that your driving has become more relaxed and less mentally demanding then when you first got behind the wheel. In the same way, many Christians have sung Joy to the World so many times that they no longer process the lyrics in their mind but simply articulate sounds through rote memorization and mnemonic associations to melodies that have been established through repetition. Because of this, Christians have lost touch with the rich theology proclaimed in Christmas hymns and songs.
Over the next several days I would like to walk through some songs and point out these forgotten truths. Some of these songs will be old familiar hymns, while other blog posts will introduce music that lies off the beaten path. In either case, the intention is to help the Church reflect on the lyrics so that they may be edified by the music going on all around them. It has been said that the Church will recall more theology from what they sing, then what they hear preached. This should be true since singing is more active than listening to a sermon. However, if you never think about what you sing the activity in singing becomes more about hitting the right notes than a confessional of theological truths. My prayer is that together we will gravitate towards the latter (without abandoning proper pitch).