Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Songs of the Season: Go Tell It On the Mountain

In honor of my dad's birthday today, our Song of the Season is Go Tell It On the Mountain. I have memories of my dad singing this song even when it wasn't Christmas. Something about the booming opening stanza appealed to him. 

 The chorus of the song has been around for generations, but it became a traditional Christmas song around the turn of the century when John W. Work wrote the rest of the verses. 

What I didn't realize until I researched this song is that the chorus grew out of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:9:

Get you up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good tidings;[a]
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,[b]
    lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”

So, my friends, get you up to a high mountain, lift up your voice, and let the people know that Jesus Christ is born. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Songs of the Season: Joy to the World

One of my greatest pleasures in life is listening to Christmas music. Not the Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman variety, but the "full-on sing glory to God because we are celebrating His birth" variety. I thought it would be fun to do a little Christmas countdown of music on the old blog here, since it gathered a bit of dust during the month of November.

I decided to start things off with Joy to the World because of one line in the song: Let every heart prepare Him room. A little background trivia, Joy to the World was not written to be a Christmas song. Isaac Watts wrote it in 1719 as a reflection of Psalm 98, in which creation itself sings with joy. Who knew?

The red-hot question this time of year is "Are you ready for Christmas?" which means, is your tree up? House decorated? Shopping done? Presents wrapped? Cookies made? Cards out?

Just once, I would love to answer that question by saying, "Yeah I'm ready! I am so pumped to celebrate the birth of my Savior I can hardly stand it!!!!"

I think of the movie Elf when Elf finds out Santa is coming and just about loses his mind. I want to answer like that. "JE-SUS! JESUS IS COMING!!"

What does it really mean to be ready for Christmas? I think our song holds the key: "Let every heart prepare Him room."

So, how do we do that? How do we prepare Him room? I know when I am making room for something in my house, it usually requires me to get rid of a lot of stuff I'd been hanging onto that I don't really need. I need to do some rearranging.

I need to make room for Jesus by letting go of old resentments, bitterness, regrets, and other things of that nature that crowd Him out. There might be someone I need to forgive in order to make room for Jesus.

 I need to stop focusing on the tasks of the season and focus on the why of the season. It does not honor God if I am too stressed out to see the majesty of what He has done for me. That's not what He wants for any of us.

Sometimes, I need to prepare Him room by getting out of His way. I get so focused on my agenda and all the fun we are going to have (she said through gritted teeth) that I miss what He has planned for me.

Let's all get our brooms out and sweep away what doesn't belong in our hearts. Let's prepare a place for our Savior and truly seek the joy that comes from Him alone this Christmas season, and beyond.

One of my favorite renditions of Joy to the World is on Chris Tomlin's Glory in the Highest Christmas album. I can hardly keep from dancing when I hear this song. En-JOY!