Christmas Hymns have some of the richest theology you can find in congregational song. Perhaps it is because it is hard to sing about the incarnation without going on to explain Jesus' full ministry and reason for coming in the first place.
Think about "What Child is This." Verse one describes the angels, the shepherds, and new mother Mary. Verse two gets to the heart of Jesus' suffering work: Nails, Spear shall pierce him through; the cross be borne for me for you.
Charles Wesley, one of the most significant contributors to protestant hymnody and sung theology, has a number of his 6,000+ hymns in hymnals across denominational lines. His text Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, combined with Mendelssohn's majestic musical setting, is one of my all-time favorite Christmas hymns. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered two other verses which are not typically included in hymnals:
I have our church sing these extra verses at least one Sunday in Advent. The scriptural allusions show us that God's plan of redemption first promised to Eve in Genesis is fulfilled in the work of the second Adam (Jesus).
Glory to the newborn King!
Anthony is the Director of Music and Worship at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC.
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