Where Theology Stirkes the Heart…

I have this thing I like to do during Christmas time.  To accomplish this thing I need a little time and an empty house.  I put in a Christmas CD with all the Christmas hymns.  And then I go about singing, at the top of my lungs my favorite Christmas hymns.  There are two things I know about myself: 1.) I love to sing and 2.) I can’t sing that well.  This, to my wife’s dismay, doesn’t usually deter me much at all.  She has mastered the art of tactfully turning up the radio incrementally so as not to offend me and my merry-making.

Josh Groban I am not, but sing with him I will.  My heart gets so full by declaring through my broken voice and off tone keys the glory of Jesus Christ found in the words of many Christian Christmas hymns.  It is a fruitful spiritual discipline.  One that I would recommend.  I think that many people would find a freedom in worship if they allowed themselves to belt out worship songs from time to time.  This exercise helps remind me that my worship is not defined or limited by my actual abilities and it helps me to “get over myself” enough to declare the worth of Jesus Christ to myself.  If I can’t declare it to myself, how do I expect to be able to declare it to someone else?

I love the Christmas hymns the most.  They are so rich.  As one who has grown up in the contemporary worship movement, I haven’t lost my love for old hymns.  Old hymns do a better job in many ways then do most contemporary worship songs.  Many contemporary worship songs focus on the emotion of a moment.  They tend to be emotion driven.  They try to replicate feelings rather then produce them within.  They say “love him, love him, love him,” without painting a picture of why we should love him.  So often they become our love songs to Jesus.  I am painting with a broad brush here and make vast generalizations I know.

Old hymns, I have found, tend to be much different.  Most are more theologically saturated.  They don’t, as often, tell us to love God.  They show us God in a way that produces a love for Him.   They bridge the gap between the often dry, cerebral nature of theology and the emotions of the heart.  The best is when old hymns are sung in a contemporary style.  I think that pulls together the strengths of both. Done this way, these hymns make us feel theology, not just think it.   It is true, old hymns sung in an old style can be rather dry and dull.

So often I think that Christmas hymns make us feel theology the best.  And that is really no surprise at all.  Isn’t that exactly what Christmas is about?  When God gave us the ability to feel, touch, and look upon theology.  God gave theology a mouth, nail pierced hands, and a  human face.  He gave theology a beating heart and put it inside a vulnerable baby that would walk, talk, and eventually die.

So I leave you with the words to one of my favorite hymns: O’ Holy Night.  Sing it loud and proud knowing you will not be the only one worshiping in secret.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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3 Responses to Where Theology Stirkes the Heart…

  1. Anna says:

    I love “O Holy Night”. My favorite rendition is by Michael Crawford, with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and a children’s choir. He has some different lyrics from what you posted here, but it includes a belted phrase of “Christ is the Lord!” and I can’t help but want to sing along! :) Here’s a youtube of the audio. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XReoQadp4RA

  2. Pam Martin says:

    I can’t carry a tune but in my car or in my house I sing with a Joy filled heart. Not worrying about hurting anybodies ears.

  3. Charlie says:

    If you sing along with Josh, I’d love you to sing along with me! When you get a second, listen to the version of “O Holy Night” I just recorded. I’m offering it as a free download. Let me know what you think & Enjoy your holidays.
    Twitter: @CharlieWMusic

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