I was struck again by the power of music in bearing testimony of Christ during my BYU ward's Christmas program two Sundays ago. In particular, two girls I know sang a beautiful duet of "What Child is This?" I don't think I'd ever heard (or maybe just never paid attention) to more than the first verse, which is pretty normal stuff about Christ being born in a manger. The second verse, however, jumped out at me:
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
I hadn't ever realized how scriptural the imagery was in this song. I love the words describing the Word being made flesh, and then that flesh being pierced for us all. Just beautiful. And, as Eugene England said in his great essay Easter Weekend, a spiritual song is most beautiful when performed by those who have a testimony of the Savior about whom they sing, and these girls definitely did.
While I'm at it, I'll just throw out there another phrase that I've always found interesting in the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," namely "The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight." The hope and faith of millions of people--both past and future--came head to head with their fears in that night, and it was the beginning of the triumph of the former.
So enjoy the many many wonderful Christmas carols to be heard at this time of year (but let's retire those past their prime). There is truly a lot to be thankful and hopeful for during this season. What are the most meaningful Christmas songs for you?
p.s. I think we hear a lot about carols that people find annoying or overdone, but I'd like to nominate "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" as the most underappreciated Christmas song. Any others you'd like to see sung more often?