Christmas

It’s never too early for Christmas music

Jonathan Cho // December 18, 2018, 7:37 pm

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

“It’s never too early for Christmas music!”

I’ve heard this remark from friends and family alike so many times, I think I’ve lost count – I’ve even said it to myself on occasion.

I remember that, during one particular exam season (sometime in early October), I sat in the school library, totally exhausted and day-dreaming while I quietly listened to the pitter patter of the year-end rainy weather droning on the roof. Suddenly, I felt a certain pining and immediately thought to myself: “I think it’s time for some Christmas music.”

I swiftly clicked on and played a particular Lincoln Brewster Christmas album and, as the music flooded my ears, a certain warmth flooded my heart and completely lifted my spirit, giving me hope as I ploughed on with the studying.

“Christmas is coming, but it is also already here,” I remember telling myself.

Jonathan performing with Christian band, Awaken Generation.

Performing with Christian band Awaken Generation.

Call me dramatic, but it’s true – try playing Christmas music at any time of the year, and I guarantee you that neither your ears nor the people around you will jump to reject it (to be clear, though, I am referring specifically to religious Christmas music, as opposed to another category which often involves a certain jolly, portly, white-bearded man).

It is truly quite a phenomenon, isn’t it? No matter who we are or what we may profess to believe, the Christmas message as captured in religious Christmas music can often be heard in one form or another, on the lips of most people once the “ber” months begin (i.e. September, October, November, December).

A delight to the soul

The remarkable reality of Christmas is that it might just be the one time in the entire year where the message and story of Christ coming to earth is on the lips of even those who may not even profess to be His followers. 

Just think about it – doesn’t it bring you absolute joy and excitement, when you step into a shopping mall and notice that there is Christmas music playing in the background? Could it be a purely emotional thing based on an over-romanticising of the season? Could it be some kind of manipulation in the musical notations or chord structures of Christmas music that deliberately evokes that “magical” and delightful feeling in our soul and spirit?

Jonathan Cho

“Christmas music sends the message that He is reaching out for us and making Himself known and accessible to us.”

It must surely be more than that – the receptivity to Christmas music (and thus, the Christmas message) is necessarily connected to its accessibility.

This is probably best demonstrated by the fact that many of us readily allow (and even openly welcome) strangers into our homes to sing carols during the Christmas season. Where does this sudden openness or receptivity come from? In my own experience, it is a unique thing that I observe amongst both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Clearly, we don’t see it happening at other times of the year – it would be strange, if not outright intrusive, to ask to enter someone’s home or stand at their front door/corridor to sing songs of worship unto God, for them and in front them.

There is something in the message of these Christmas songs that causes a human heart to be receptive and ready to listen – perhaps in a profound way – to the voice of God.

This very fact, I believe, is the clearest expression of the availability of God’s grace to all man. It is a beautiful, undeniable image of Jesus readying Himself to enter any heart or home ready to receive Him:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Gospel message for every season

Music, as a form of creative expression, has always been special to me.

In particular, words/lyrics have always pulled at my heartstrings more than the melodies themselves. To me, the treasure in any song is almost always found in its message – the story being communicated, and the connection being established between lyricist and listener.

Serenading wife, Dorea, and daughter, Zoey.

That’s exactly what captures my heart and keeps the song echoing long after it has stopped playing.

And this is why Christmas music speaks to me – with every song on the playlist, I am reminded of a unified theme in all the different expressions.

I am reminded that God is the One telling the story and sending the message, and that He is reaching out for us and making Himself known and accessible to us.

Music, in this regard, functions almost like a forerunner – creating inroads in our hearts so as to “prepare the way” for our Lord to show up and do what only He can do.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that no matter the season of one’s life, there is often always a song which speaks to the heart, expressing what it is painfully attempting to say.

Songs and music, always have an inroad to our hearts. Whether in the darkest season of one’s soul, or the mountaintop glories of one’s life, there is always a song to sing.

Christmas music is the Gospel message that no matter the season, no matter our brokenness, Christ is willing to enter in.

Perhaps the musical expression of worship during Christmas is the Gospel message that no matter the season, no matter the darkness or brokenness of one’s life, Christ is willing to enter in, just as He did into that dirty, grimy manger.

And if I might harbour a guess, that might just be the reason most of us are always ready for Christmas music to be played, regardless of the time of year – our hearts have been already primed and are pining for the message to be shared, and it is everything we never knew we needed to hear.

Of all the songs in my Christmas playlist, one particular tune always speaks to me.

It is a song that never fails to remind me of how my heart is often found in the exact same condition as the less-than-perfect circumstances under which Jesus was born – without room, full of dirt, and somewhat unbearable.

But the Christmas message is precisely that Jesus was willing to come anyway, and that He was also willing to stay:

“I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem”

Was the night windy, was the child warm

as He laid nestled

in his mother’s arms?

I hear the story

and now suddenly,

it’s more than a story to me

 

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

A place where love can dwell within

A place where hope and joy begin

where his new life can start

 

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

That’s open wide to welcome him

and let his love be born again

This Christmas in my heart

Just like the wise men

who followed the light,

I’m drawn to the wonder

of His love tonight

 

Just like the shepherds,

my heart is amazed,

and just like the angels,

I’ll praise

 

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

A place where love can dwell within

A place where hope and joy begin

where his new life can start

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

That’s open wide to welcome him

and let his love be born again

This Christmas in my heart

 

That Christmas long ago

There was no room in the inn

This Christmas in my heart

I’ll welcome Jesus in

 

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

A place where love can dwell within

A place where hope and joy begin

where his new life can start

I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem

That’s open wide to welcome him

and let his love be born again

This Christmas in my heart

Just as it is never too early to have Christmas music playing in your ears, there is also never a wrong time to ponder over and receive the gift of God in the form of Jesus His son. To welcome Him into our hearts and have His abiding presence dwell with us, just as He did 2000 years ago, and just as He will when He returns again.

About the author

Jonathan Cho

Jonathan is a lawyer by profession, but a story-teller at heart. He is committed to bringing about healing and restoration through his practice of law, believing that everyone has a story to tell and that there should be access to justice for all. When he is not advocating, Jonathan charts stories of his own through music and writing. He serves in his local church's youth and worship ministries and is also a volunteer mentor with Awaken Generation Singapore, a part-time worship and music mentorship school. He is married to his lovely wife, Dorea, and they have a little girl named Zoey.