Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Singing the "WHY" of Christmas

I generally have a pretty firm "no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving" rule. But I broke it this year. Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man has been on continual repeat in my car since I received it a couple of weeks ago.

When I first downloaded the free single Sovereign Grace Ministries put out to promote their new Christmas CD, I immediately pre-ordered a copy of the whole CD. After my other two CDs, I'm hooked--so I couldn't wait to hear an entire album of gospel-centered, Christ-exalting Christmas music. As the website explains, "Each of the twelve new songs is a celebration of this amazing truth: The baby in a manger is God himself, the Savior who came to bear our sins and bring us close to the Father."

You won't find any reindeer games or sleigh rides or frightful weather and crackling fireplaces here. Not that those things are bad--they're blessings from God. But they aren't the main thing. They're fun traditions, but they aren't the reason we celebrate every December. This CD focuses on the wonder of the incarnation, the incredible miracle of God coming to earth--"Endless Ages wrapped in years," as one song puts it. Songwriter Mark Altrogge explains that the goal was to create "not just Christmas songs, but Christmas songs that could be used in worship"--Christmas songs with actual content, songs that magnify God.

Even better, this CD doesn't just celebrate the fact that Jesus came to earth as man. It joyfully proclaims WHY. And isn't that the question we're always asking? The fact is, Christmas doesn't mean much without the cross. So the songs on Savior take us again and again from the manger in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, infusing our Christmas joy with richer, deeper meaning. Lyrics like these answer the "Why?" of Christmas beautifully:

God is born a man today
To bring His children home
...The Lion comes to crush the serpent
...God has sent His greatest treasure
Shown His love in greatest measure
Sending Christ to bleed and suffer
Purchasing our joy forever
--"Christ the Lord is Born Today"

He has come to rescue sinners,
Come to meet our desperate need;
He was born to bring forgiveness,
Born for Calvary.
--"Hope Has Come"

How sweet the day when Hope appeared
The One who frees us from our fears
He came to break the power of sin
And give us power to follow Him
--"How Sweet the Day"

You’ll fulfill the Father’s plan
Reconciling God and man
--"Sleep, Jesus, Sleep"

Other favorites (though they're all great) include "Rejoice," a triumphant song which tells the story of God's goodness and majesty through three verses on creation, redemption and Christ's final return in glory; and "Wonderful Counselor," which puts beautiful music to one of my favorite Christmas passages, Isaiah 9.

Often when we think Christmas music," certain songs immediately come to mind: "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," etc. So with twelve brand-new songs on this CD, what makes it "Christmas-y"? Besides the lyrics, what makes Christmas music have that holiday feel? I can't pinpoint it, but these songs do have a warm "Christmas feel." I don't know if it's certain instrumentation or what, but they completely succeed in getting me excited about Christmas--and in this case, for all the right reasons. And yet, the rich gospel content makes it a year-round CD. I definitely won't be able to put it away in January!

Our Creator became a man like us! Can we ever fully comprehend that truth and what it means? No--but Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man is a great way to deepen our understanding and our joy as we exult in this truth. Go buy this CD!

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