Finding joy through music this Christmas season

by Tom Tillman on December 8, 2020 in Great Commission

My preference is to start listening to Christmas music after Thanksgiving. Now those that know me, know I haven’t always had this luxury as my Christmas started in June as a worship pastor preparing for annual Christmas planning! However, this year I was running some errands after Halloween and scrolling through radio stations when I found an old favorite Christmas tune playing. As it caught my ear and as I listened, I found myself drawn in and began to sing along. Suddenly, I found that mood for Christmas and joy in my heart! My spirit lifted within a matter of seconds. 

2020 has certainly brought lots of unexpected circumstances and stresses to each of us. By listening to that upbeat Christmas tune that day (Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee!), the concerns of the day somehow seemed to disappear. This simple incident reminded me of the powerful impact music has on each of us. 

Music is an important part of our lives. Never in a million years could any of us have imagined worship canceled in our churches this past Easter due to a worldwide pandemic. Now, many who normally gather for Christmas concerts, pageants and other December gatherings will not due to the coronavirus. Our churches have learned to adapt to new methods and protocols of gathering for worship in 2020. As churches have either canceled or scaled back their traditional Christmas celebrations, many are using technology in creative ways by pre-recording singers and orchestras to share virtually with their congregations. One blessing of 2020 is that these new methods of sharing have the potential to reach even more people via streaming services and social media shares than ever before. 

The fact of the matter remains—people love to come together and celebrate hearing the powerful message of hope, peace, joy and love that the Christ child brings to each of us. So, for the many church members who seek that experience and powerful worship time each year, there are other ways we can celebrate during this holiday season. Just like my story of that Christmas tune after Halloween, each one of us can still find joy this Christmas season. Make it a priority to listen to the beautiful old songs, as well as the many fun Christmas songs available on streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, etc. Some of you may even wish to go old school and get out your old vinyls and record player! I still have many fond memories as a kid of Johnny Mathis, Elvis & Perry Como songs via vinyl coming through mom and dad’s old console record player. 

This season we need encouragement, hope and a little Christmas spirit! I encourage you to listen to Christmas music as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child in a world desperately needing the Messiah. 

Below are links to a few of my favorite Christmas tunes. And there are many, many more. Get in the spirit! Share some joy! Some of you may even wish to gather a few friends and family and go carolling in your neighborhood (staying outside and socially distanced!). 

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Frank Sinatra

I love this one because, well, it is Frank Sinatra, but it’s almost like hearing angels singing in the choir background. When I lead this hymn as a congregation, I always like to do it at a brisk tempo, but the slower pace that Frank does is very beautiful and thoughtful. Lyrically, this tends to focus mostly on the angels, but they were a big part of the event that blessed Christmas Eve!

O Little Town of Bethlehem – Nat King Cole

Another classic. With this Christmas song, I want to hear Nat!

O Holy Night – Sandi Patty

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices! David Clydesdale captured the excitement of this favorite and Sandi Patty singing it like no other.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Amy Grant

This is one of the happiest Christmas songs there is in my opinion, and Amy’s arrangement has become a classic. I love the large symphonic orchestra and choir that back her up on this!

Find your Christmas songs—those that are meaningful to you this year. Listen to them. Find joy in them. Thank God for the blessings of technology and the gift of music that we can celebrate the birth of our Savior this season, even if it may feel different than ever before.

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