To quote Buddy the Elf, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear, ” and while my singing (especially the loud kind) is of a suspect nature, I do love Christmas carols. I am particularly fond of the older carols, even when they’ve been re-imagined. I find them both more joyous and more sincere, lacking as they do the sort of commercial dilution we often face these days. As much fun as I have with, say, Misters Snow Miser & Heat Miser, they’re just no match for something that’s been around for 900 years. With that in mind, I thought I would use this advent season to reflect a bit on those Christmas carols which hit the mark in the truest sense.
First up, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The text refers to Isaiah 7:14, but no one really knows where the song came from. Many scholars pin down the original Latin version somewhere in the 12th century, but it wasn’t translated into English until the 19th century. The version below is from the David Crowder Band, which I think captures the lyrics’ desperate longing especially well. Since Adam & Eve were tossed from the garden, we have all been crying out for a savior, for God to be with us. In one way or another, I find myself doing this on a daily basis, and this song reminds me of both the cry and the answer. Because God has answered us, the lonely exiles, and he did it on Christmas. Rejoice!