With every Christmas time as a worship leader I scour the virtual shelves of my favourite music websites in search of some new Christmas music. It’s my annual search for something fresh for this time of year. Now I have nothing against a good old traditional carol, in fact I’ll try and slip a Christmas hymn in to a service as early as I can but even I cannot beat the retailers in their pursuit to extend the festive period. To be battered into submission in October is not cool – Yes Argos I’m talking to you!!! No matter how loud you make Noddy Holder shout it, it most certainly is not Christmas.
I’m not naive enough to think it has anything to do with a love for Christmas - it’s all about sales, simple cash in the tills. The earlier you tell people Christmas is coming (cue the Coca-Cola Truck driving through snow covered countryside carrying in the back not the suggested bottles and cans of coke but the imprisoned 100 piece choir shackled together and forced to constantly whisper “Holidays are Coming, Holidays are Coming, Holidays are Coming, Holidays are Coming”), the earlier the panic sets in – “You must buy this item before it sells out we only have 1800 left in stock and the next delivery won’t be until tomorrow!!!!”
Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box because it is now Christmas. Christmas songs: I love a bit of O Holy Night and Hark the Herald Angels, I even like the Sunday School rendition of Little Donkey (with the Sunday School leaders belting out the songs louder than any of the kids – most of whom are not even sure why they’re standing in front of all these smiling and teary-eyed faces). I can even put up with the lyrical and factual weirdness of some of the more traditional carols – for example In the Bleak Mid-winter. The line ‘Snow has fallen snow on snow - brilliant, paints a beautiful picture of thick snow but obviously ran out of ideas where to go next so as all good songwriters we fall back to the golden rule: If in doubt, repeat!
Snow has fallen , Snow on Snow, Snoooow on snow
Anyway, amid the usual suspects you occasionally find a gem of a new song that makes you sit up and pay attention. Every now and then among the auto-pilot Away in a Mangers you hear the hauntingly beautiful Thorn in the straw or a Mary did you Know.
It is now just over 2 weeks to Christmas and my tree is up, Chris Rea and Shakin’ Stevens are on the radio again, The Bank of England tell us we’re now out of recession (hmmm...convenient), turkey’s everywhere are saying their goodbyes to their friends and families, people’s faces are getting redder and redder from stress and overindulgence and somewhere in the craziness, among the tinsel and mince pies, if you take the time to just listen you’ll hear a small voice whispering - not, that holidays are coming but that a baby was born 2000 years ago and that one event changed everything that had gone before and since.