“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope.” *
Sample Carol Witnesses from the series “CAROLS UNPLUGGED”
The memory of God becoming a child is already being awakened by the Holy Spirit as millions of people search the Internet during December for the words and music of long forgotten religious Christmas carols. Christmas music surrounds us in stores, malls, and in the media. What if individuals, families, small groups, ministries, and parishes were to build upon this as a God-given evangelistic opportunity to invite acquaintances, friends, and relatives to experience Jesus-centered carols during the pre-Christmas season?
At the heart of the most enduring Christmas Carols and their imagery is the core belief that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phil. 2: 11) This expression is a shorthand version of the Christian creed and is at the heart of our Baptismal Vows. These four small words can guide us in using carols to share Christ.
Carols that help us see Jesus include What Child is This? and Silent Night. Carols about Christ, the anointed one, include Angels We Have Heard on High and Hark the Herald Angles Sing. Finally, the experience of choosing Jesus as Lord is described in O, Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World. When we sing any of these Jesus-centered carols we have an opportunity “to put on Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 3:7) and then share Christ with others through these songs.
We encourage you and your faith communities to invite inactive and unchurched friends and family to gather outside of liturgical space and let these Christmas carols echo God’s voice as you sing them together. Here are some suggestions for linking the images in these carols with your own Christmas experiences.
Christmas Carol Prayers and Imagery
Read the lyrics of a Christ centered carol aloud. Reflect on its images for Jesus. Prayerfully repeat a favorite image aloud as a way of calling out to Jesus.
FOR GROUPS group, ask people to repeat images aloud. After each images the group can respond with, “And so we pray, Jesus Christ is Lord”. Here are more samples of Christ-centered carols and some of their imagery.
Angels We Have Heard on High: Christ, Lord, Newborn King, Glad Tidings
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing: Newborn King, Christ, Everlasting Lord
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear: Gracious King, Good news
Joy to the World: King, Savior, Ruler, Source of joy
Come All Ye Faithful: Christ, Lord, Word of the Father, Word made flesh
Come, O Come, Emmanuel: Emmanuel, Son of God, Dayspring, Key of David
Little Town of Bethlehem: Light, Born of Mary, Emmanuel
Silent Night: Holy Infant, Christ, Savior, Son of God, Light, Redeemer
What Child is This: Christ, Lord, King of Kings, Son of Mary, Word
1. Write down a line from a carol that includes a striking Jesus image. You might also choose a line from the Christmas event that the carol refers to (See Lk.1&2; Mt.1&2; Jn.1).
2. In one or two sentences, describe what God might be saying to you through this Christmas carol.
3. What about this image might be difficult for a marginal, inactive, or unchurched Catholic to understand? How would an awareness of this difficulty change what you share about this carol?
Consider preparing a longer sharing for more serious conversations that includes how you were moved from fear to courage, or from hatred to love, weakness to strength, despair to hope, sickness to health, guilt to peace, bondage to freedom, loneliness to community, being lost to being found. But remember most pre-Christmas sharing would normally be of the one sentence variety.
*Pope Benedict XVI, Seek That Which is Above, Ignatius Press, 2007
Copyright (c) 2010 Therese and John Boucher