The Carols I’m Playing On Repeat This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching, but there’s still another week to enjoy listening to festive tunes. Here are three carols I’ve been listening to most this season. Each of them has helped to prepare my heart to worship Jesus.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Favourite lyrics:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Why I love it:

This became my favourite carol a couple of years ago. Unlike traditional Advent, our modern Christmases tend to focus very little on waiting. From as early as November (or even October, if you’re like me!) we listen to Christmas music, watch movies, decorate the house, build gingerbread houses, attend or host parties…

It’s easy to forget that Advent is meant to be about waiting for Christ. Israel waited thousands of years for God’s promises to be fulfilled in the coming of Emmanuel. And while we reflect on his birth, we also look forward to his promised second coming. We too are in exile, waiting for the Son of God to appear on the clouds of heaven and make all things new. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel restores me to the joy of that expectant waiting.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Favourite lyrics:

For lo, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Why I love it:

I can’t quite put my finger on why this song always has me on the verge of tears. It peels back the curtain so we can behold the angels who sing of the peace Jesus brings between God and mankind. We are reminded, as the Bible teaches, that the angels didn’t just sing on that first Christmas night. They are still praising Jesus now, and one day we will join them in their everlasting song.

I also love how it doesn’t ignore the pain we suffer in the world now. It speaks of the “woes of sin and strife” and “life’s crushing load”. But we are encouraged in the midst of that to pause, be quiet, and hear the glorious song of the angels. We are pointed forward to the coming age of gold.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Favourite lyrics:

Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Why I love it:

Just like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, this song reminds me that Jesus came as the promised Messiah and will come again. It helps me to long for him. As we look around at all the horrible things happening in our world, it’s easy to blame it on the government or certain groups of people. But the real problem is the evil of sin. Jesus is the answer to all our desires and longings that seem so elusive—joy, hope, justice, peace.

So as the suffering of the world breaks through the glittering cheer of Christmas, this song helps me to long for Jesus and wait for the day when he will raise us to his glorious throne.

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