The Sounds of Christmas Tell the Story of Christmas
Everywhere are the sounds of Christmas. Turn on the radio and the sounds of Christmas greet you. Walk through the stores and you are met with the sights and sounds of Christmas.
Listen to the words of many songs and you will hear the story of Christmas.
The First Noel
The First Noel retells the Christmas story from Luke 2. The angel brought the joyous news to the shepherds in the fields. It tells of the wise men following that same star to bring Him gifts. The story of the wise men is told in Matthew 2:1–12.
The First Noel was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God.
Noel means Christmas carol.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O Come, O Come Emmanuel is an Advent song that tells of waiting for the Savior. References to the Rod of Jesse and the Key of David come from the Old Testament prophesies of the coming of Jesus.
“Each antiphon begins as follows:
O Sapentia (Wisdom)
O Adonai (Hebrew word for God)
O Radix Jesse (stem or root of Jesse)
O Clavis David (key of David)
O Oriens (dayspring)
O Rex genitium (King of the Gentiles)
Put together, the first letter of the second word of each antiphon spells SARCORE. If read backwards, the letters form a two-word acrostic, “Ero cras,” meaning “I will be present tomorrow.” 1
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us”; Matthew 1:23.
Joy to the World
Isaac Watts penned the lyrics to “Joy to the World.” But throughout scripture you will see God’s hand in the words. Read Psalm 98, Psalm 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17-18 and you will read of the beautiful truth of what Christmas is really about. The very definition of the word, “joy,” is “a source or cause of delight” (Merriam-Webster).
“And so, let the heavens resound in gladness! Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar. Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there. Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal” (Psalm 96:11-12).
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Phillips Brooks wrote the words to this hymn in 1865. He was inspired by visiting Bethlehem. The prophesy ofJesus’ birth to the small village appears in Micah 5.
Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation—From your people will come a Ruler who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel, Whose origins date back to the distant past, to the ancient days.”
This song reminds us of the importance of the fulfilled prophesy of Christ’s birth.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Charles Wesley wrote the words to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in 1739. His goal was to share the gospel with ordinary people. This classic Christmas carol is the Christmas story Luke told in his gospel.
“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’” Luke 2:13-14
“Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King!” When we sing these words, we are repeating Scripture!
Angels We Have Heard on High
James Chadwick wrote the lyrics for “Angels We Have Heard on High” to the music from a French song called Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes.
The shepherds were a very important part of God’s plan. The angels appeared to a lower-class group of people. They were terrified! The significance of these events was news of the One who would go after the hearts of all men … seeking not to lose one.
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” John 6:39.
“Gloria, in excelsis Deo.” This phrase repeated in the song means, “Glory to God in the highest.” Heaven sang praise as Jesus came down. The Son of God, who created all things, made His entrance to earth.
Away in a Manger
No one can agree on who wrote the lyrics to this song. “Away in a Manger” is one of the most popular Christmas songs.
Written to the melody of a lullaby, this song sweetly sings of the baby in the manger. Jesus was born in humble surroundings. He spent His life much like we do.
Now, He sits at the right hand of the Father. This carol truly tells the story of Jesus’ birth just as God said it would.
O Holy Night
Adolphe Adam wrote the lyrics of this carol in 1847. One holy night changed the course of humanity. Through Jesus’ birth and death, we are set free. He redeemed us by His grace.
“Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was Born; O night, O holy night, O night divine!”
Merriam-Webster defines “holy” as: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. Christ is perfect. Christmas is the time to celebrate His birth and His choice to come into a world filled with sin
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” Matthew 24:14.
We can share the Story of Christmas with our friends through the beautiful words of these carols.
1. History of Hymns: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Dr. C. Michael Hawn
The Sounds of Christmas Tell the Story of Christmas