Celebrating with music

Merry Christmas! It’s finally here and it’s time to celebrate! One of the ways we do this is by singing Christmas carols. We all have our favorites, based on what we heard as we were growing up. Many of these songs, like our faith, go beyond nations and become universal.

Perhaps one of the most iconic Christmas carols is Stille Nacht, or as we know it in the U.S., Silent Night. This lullaby carol is just over 200 years old and debuted in 1818 at a Christmas Eve Mass in Austria. I’ve heard versions in Spanish, Noche de paz, as well as Polish, Cicha noc, and it is said to have been translated into 140 different languages! The slow rhythm of the song, and the softness of the words, make it an ideal lullaby and reminds us that Jesus, as a newborn baby, was just as helpless as any other. 

My favorite is Joy to the World, as it is an exciting and celebratory song. It’s almost at the total opposite end of the scale to Silent Night, as it’s fast pace and message is not something to sing to a baby, but rather shared to others with excitement. This song is 300 years old, written in English in 1719. While it is sung at Christmas, it’s not about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but rather His second coming. It makes a wonderful conclusion to advent, since that also prepares us not just for Jesus’ first coming, but to also look forward to His second coming. 

From Angels We Have Heard on High which is about the shepherds encounter with the divine, to We Three Kings, about the magi visiting Jesus, from fast and jubilant to soft and slow, there are many carols to express our Christmas perspective. I hope your favorite is played at Mass so that you can sing along and fully participate in welcoming Jesus.