One cannot think of Christmas without thinking of music. Christ's birth is announced to the shepherds accompanied by a heavenly host praising God [Luke 2:13-14]. Singing is to be an eternal part of praise to God [Revelation 4-5].
Music is a universal language. It is something that all people and all ages can relate to. Because of this there is no occasion when music is inappropriate. There is no "out of season" for music. Whatever the function or occasion music can be a part of it.
Music held a unique place in the life of Israel. In the Old Testament more than ten Hebrew words are translated by the words "sing" or "song." Known as "Humanity's Hymn Book" the Psalms contain the antitheses of joy and sorrow, fear and hope, faith and doubt, together with every other shade and quality of sentiment. The "Songs of Degrees" are sacred marches sung by pilgrims as they went up to and returned from festivals at Jerusalem. The music of saints in the Old Testament reflects both diversity and colour.
Music making in the New Testament is part of the merriment that followed the prodigal's return [Luke 15:25], is associated with the mourning of the death of a young girl [Matthew 9:23], and Paul and Silas sing when in prison [Acts 16:25]. At the conclusion of the Lord's Supper Christ and His disciples sing a hymn [Mark 14:26].
During this time of celebrating Christ's first advent many of us will enjoy listening to or participating in a presentation of Handel's "Messiah." As we thrill at the trumpet blast, shout our hallelujahs, and rejoice in the fact that our Lord is: Jesus, Emmanuel, Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, let us recall the words of Scripture and ensure that our worship is inspired and enriched through music.
"To you this day is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:10.
Dr Keith Graham