I love the way that Christmas makes everywhere look different; twinkling lights, tacky Santa’s and mesmerising trees lining the streets. I love the way that Christmas makes everywhere smell different; the scent of sweet cinnamon, fresh pine and rich spiced wine spilling out of homes. It’s beautiful and it’s delicious at this time of year. But have you noticed that Christmas makes everywhere sound different too?
Playlists in shops, drive-time radio and TV adverts suddenly include words like ‘holy’, ‘peace’, and ‘saviour’. What if we stopped for a moment to consider just how culture-changing this brief opportunity in the soundtrack to our year is? What if we realised that these songs are more than just a festive sound to set the seasonal tone?
Like attic boxes full of brightly coloured decorations, these songs have been waiting unsung and silent for the last ten months, ready to burst into the atmosphere with the greatest message of hope and joy this world has ever received. From school nativities to shopping centre carols, thousands of people come together outside of the church’s four walls to sing songs that declare the love of Jesus and the world-changing ‘good news of great joy’.
Shopping Centre carol singers are one of my favourite things about this time of year. Anyone who’s seen Will Ferrell in Elf will know of that moment where he innocently shouts “Santa? I KNOW HIM!”. This was me, stopped in my tracks in the TK Maxx doorway when the carol singers sung “Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord’’, my mind and heart shouting “You’re singing about Jesus! I KNOW HIM!”. It was a wonderful moment that reminded me of the power of these Christmas songs to reconcile the Christmas of our culture with the Christmas of our faith.
In many places, this time of year grants us permission to take our songs that proclaim the truth about Jesus out into places where they are not normally welcome. Like schools. Religion is becoming increasingly unwelcome in some schools, but so many put on an annual nativity. Children across the world are suddenly singing about God incarnate! These songs are planting seeds of truth in the children’s minds and hearts, and who knows what these seeds could grow to become?
Same Boat Music’s free Christmas Album Good News! is full of catchy, accessible songs that explore the true meaning of Christmas. Our prayer is that in singing these songs we illuminate the good news of Christmas, lighting up homes, churches, public spaces and schools all over the world.
Singing these songs together is how we keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in our culture, and it’s our chance to sing out God’s love into our everyday situations. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to let slip away. What if when we sing “Joy to the world the Lord is come.. let every heart prepare him room”, we take a moment to think, and then sing it out as a prayer over that school hall or buzzing shopping centre.
These songs are our Christmas Coca Cola truck (“Holidays are comin’, holidays are comin”!), delivering the true Christmas message up and down the country. They’re the anthems of the season, carrying the good news of Jesus through doors that are shut the other ten months of the year. This is a brief moment in time when our songs of worship take over the audio culture and are happily sung by young and old across the country. It’s a huge evangelistic opportunity and a powerful means to the truth this Christmas.
So invite your neighbours to a carol service or nativity, sing your heart out in the supermarket aisle, teach these songs to your children and blast that Christmas playlist out your car windows! It’s time to sing out the truth this Christmas.
Andy Bodkin is CEO at Same Boat Music and Out of the Ark Music, having worked previously as a global executive for Christian Copyright Licencing for 18 years. Andy plays guitar and leads worship in his local church in Sussex. A free Christmas album is available for a limited time only from www.sameboatmusic.com