Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The First Nowell"1 (Lyrics)
Of all the traditions of the holiday season, I think that my favourite is Christmas music. Certainly, I love the sparkle of lights, the glow of candles, the fragrance of freshly baked cookies, the crunch of snow, and the joy of family gatherings. But Christmas carols keep my heart singing throughout the entire Christmas season.
One of my favourite carols, The First Noel, tells of the angels' proclamation of the birth of the newborn King Jesus. The English word Noel or Nowell is from the French word Noël that means Christmas and can be traced further back to the Latin word natalis, which means birthday. We all know the words to this carol:
- The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel!
The Christmas story tells that us a single angel made the announcement of Jesus' birth to a group of shepherds:
Luke 2:9-12 – An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (NIV 2011)
The narrative goes on, though, to say:
Luke 2:13-14 – Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (NIV 2011)
Most of us envision a mental picture of a huge angelic choir singing God's praises, but the Scripture states that they were saying the words. I can't imagine them not singing! Maybe that is reserved for humans — who knows! What I can imagine is something like the idea of a football stadium full of thousands of cheering fans chanting their encouragement of the home team.
However the angels conveyed their message, the message was clear: God's Son had come to earth as a tiny Baby. We, too, can convey this message at this festive time of year.
Christmas music today usually falls into one of two categories: Santa Claus and jingle bells, or Christmas carols and more classical music. By far, I prefer the more solemn, sacred style of music, and greatly enjoy choirs, bells, and carolling. Christmas carols themselves are a means of conveying — through both words and musical notes — the message of the gift that God gave to the whole world. As we sing these carols from our hearts, we are passing on this good news. Let's spread the news with great joy.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your gift of Your own Son. This priceless gift provides eternal life and joy everlasting. May we be glad to pass on this good news to those around us. Amen.