May the blessings of Christmas abound for you as we prepare for this Holy Night!
One of the things I love best about Christmas is the singing of the beautiful hymns and carols through which we all proclaim the story of Emmanuel — God with us in the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem.
I love singing, period. However, I confess that I have close to zero confidence that I do it well. My vocal range is second soprano and what I really love is singing alto. I find amazing joy in singing harmony and yet I don’t read music very well. Since the Glee Club in high school, through to singing for years in my church choir, I have relied upon strong musicians among the altos to carry me along.
Because of my love for the inner voice, more than the melody, modern praise songs often leave me flat. Instead of singing through harmonies, praise songs are usually sung in unison or, if there is harmony, we need to know it by heart and without the notes. Usually, there is no music, just words.
The Advent season brings blessed relief for me. I have sung these carols for so long that I can actually sing the alto harmony line on the best known like “O, Come All Ye Faithful” or “Joy to the World” without keeping my eyes fixed on the notes in the hymnbook.
As I ponder upon this, it makes sense to me that praise music has arisen in these past forty years or so during such strife in the church. Our difficulty in being together as a church has translated into difficulty singing together with our different voices. During such times, it makes sense that we would move toward singing in unison. Harmony is elusive for us.
Singing at Christmas brings healing and reconciliation to us all because, during Advent and Christmastide, at least, it is expected that the church will sing in harmony and we all enjoy our different parts.
Perhaps those in the church who sometimes desperately want us to sing in unison can accept harmony at Christmas because there is confidence during these holy days that we are indeed singing the same song. We can delight in the parts we all play, however different, in the proclamation of Jesus as God incarnate, dwelling among us full of grace and truth.
So, then, my Christmas wish is that this willingness to join in the harmonies of our favorite carols would last throughout the church year. Can my Christmas present be our seeing that there is a way between unison and conflict — that is harmony?
I hope you sing along with your part in this beloved Christmas carol. Enjoy!
Reverend Janet Edwards