6. Praise God with Song and Carols


This is the sixth article in the series ‘10 Things to Do with Your Family This Christmas Season.’

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

Throughout the ages, this pronouncement of our Savior’s birth has been understood to be accompanied with songs of praise and jubilation, exalting the glory of God and the great joy of his salvation. The Greek word αινουντων (ainountōn), here translated as “praising”, is used throughout the New Testament to denote the joyful homage of God expressed in doxology, hymn or prayer. With the strong connection in Scripture between singing and praising, the thought that the angels made melody while announcing Jesus’ birth is obvious.

The psalms frequently instruct us to sing praises to God: “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm” (Psalm 47:6–7). Elsewhere we see examples of Christians singing God’s praises to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:15), addressing fellow believers with song (Ephesians 5:19), and singing when they are cheerful (James 5:13).

With so much emphasis on singing the praises of God, is it any wonder that caroling and singing of Christ’s advent is a favorite Christian tradition! This season of great joy and mirth should fill us all with cheerfulness — “Till the air eve'rywhere now with joy is ringing!”

Our modern form of caroling is rooted in the ancient english custom of wassailing, where peasants went to their feudal lords to exchange charitable gifts. The peasants would give a song (of praise and thanksgiving to God, and a blessing upon the new year) and the lords would give a present in return (usually food and drink). This developed into a tradition where people gave Christmas treats to carolers on Christmas Eve — usually a glass of “good cheer,” the wassail beverage.

This year, as you remember the joyous occasion of Jesus’ birth, celebrate with songs. Take the time to sing carols — sing them with your family and with friends. Share these songs with others. Go caroling and share the message of Christ’s birth around your neighborhood or at a nursing home. Give them the treat of song and bring them tidings of great joy. Proclaim the incarnation with all the festivity of a royal arrival. Afterwards, enjoy a warm drink of wassail (here is a recipe).