Songs of Blessing
By Anthony Casperson

One of the things that springs to many minds when it comes to the Christmas season is all of the music. Sure, songs of various kinds quite often are mindlessly playing around us throughout the whole year. But we tend to pay more attention to these seasonal favorites.

Christmasy themes that sound from our radios. Hymns sung in churches. And carols from an occasional troupe of roaming performers (who hold the listeners hostage until they get figgy pudding—for some reason—according to that one song). Some families even gather around a piano or guitar and sing the songs of Christmas together (or so I’ve heard).

A part of this tradition can find its origin in a centuries-old practice of lifting spirits through song during this period of the calendar when days are short and the nights long. There’s this desire to remember the goodness of life when the situation around us is cold, dark, and dreary. (Maybe that’s where the “happy police”—who berate the seasonally depressed with demands of smiling—come from.)

But there’s something different when it comes to the tunes that sing praise to our Savior. The ones that focus on him instead of whatever else the season is supposedly about according to the lyrics. It’s almost like the entrance of God enfleshed in humanity moves our hearts in such a way that the blessings we give him have to exit us through artistic expression.

And this emotional draw to express our praise for our Savior in poetic verse has been within humanity from the announcement of his birth.

If you look at the first couple of chapters of the Gospel of Luke, you’d almost swear that the good doctor was writing a musical—or maybe Tolkien got a hand on it to interject his authorial sensibilities. Songs abound in those two chapters.

Mary sings in the presence of her relative Elizabeth. Praises toward the God who looked upon this lowly young woman and called her blessed. And the song continues to praise God for how he lifts up those in a similar state.

Zechariah’s very first words after the birth of his son, John the Baptist, are a prophecy in poetic verse. He blesses the God of Israel, their redeemer. He shouts forth the covenant faithfulness of God. And eventually turns to his son—the one who would prepare the way of the Lord—only to praise God more for the boy’s purpose in the plan of salvation.

Then in chapter two, after the birth of Jesus, we see the heavenly army sing a short praise chorus while the shepherds watch in awe. Glory to God is this song’s theme. And they continue by singing of the wholeness bestowed upon we humans toward whom he is positively inclined.

Even days later, when Mary and Joseph brought the baby to the temple so that they could sacrifice for this son who opened the womb, a man named Simeon witnesses their arrival and can’t help but sing praise to God for the child. Simeon had been told by God that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. And then one day comes a woman carrying this Savior of the world. Simeon knows he can die now, but even facing death itself can take a back seat to this moment of meeting his Savior. This light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for Israel.

Song after song, the verses showcase. People see or hear of this baby king who would save them. And they can only respond in song.

Maybe there’s something for us to think about in that truth. Sure, not everybody is musically inclined, but that should never keep us from letting our praise and blessings toward God flow in lyrical joy.

The lowly are favored by God. His plan and our part in it are sure. Peaceful wholeness is offered to we who give glory to God. And even death-like shadow should never keep us from joyfully singing his blessing. Through the tears, if need be.

Over the next week, when the songs of our Savior play, let’s sing along with the praise of our Savior—even if just in our hearts. Let’s join our voices with the multitudes who couldn’t help but sing the blessing.