Discovering the Songs of Christmas

by Jim on 2 November 2010

I know, it’s only November – no time to be talking about Christmas.  But when you’re far away from family, you either think about Christmas early – or nobody gets a gift.  :)

Discovering the Songs of Christmas by Robert Cottrill

And I know some of you are starting to think about Christmas too – which is why I decided it was time to mention, once again, Discovering the Songs of Christmas!

My Dad wrote this book, but it came out later than expected last year – too late for many people to use over Christmas.

Discovering the Songs of Christmas: Meditations on Our Traditional Carols and Christmas Hymns is just what it sounds like – short meditations on Christmas carols.

The book is divided into 6 different aspects of Christmas…

  1. Anticipation
  2. Arrival
  3. Announcement
  4. Acclamation
  5. Adoration
  6. Aftermath

Each section contains several short chapters, each featuring a different Christmas carol.  All in all, there are 63 different songs!  As an added bonus, there’s an alphabetical index of songs in the back, and a chronological index (incidentally, the oldest song in the book is from circa 183 A.D.)

You’ll learn lots of things that you never knew about songs you’re familiar with (and some you aren’t!).  For example,

  • What song began as only one word?
  • What strange ironies surround one of our most popular carols?
  • What did the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden play in the first ever radio broadcast?
  • What Christmas song was written by a comedian?
  • What Christmas carol did Oliver Wendell Holmes call "one of the most beautiful poems ever written"?
  • What orphaned MK wrote one of the most familiar "angel carols"?
  • What carol in its original version doesn’t mention baby Jesus, Mary, shepherds or wisemen?
  • Who really wrote "Away in a Manger"? (hint: it wasn’t Martin Luther)

That’s just a sampling.  Better yet, the book is filled with Scripture, and thoughts about the message behind the words.

The chapters are short enough to read at the dinner table with young children (as a matter of fact, I think I will.  I think I will).  Or to be put in a bulletin.  The book would also be a great gift for a friend or neighbour, even those who don’t yet know the man behind the words of our Christmas carols – Jesus Himself!

I’ll close with one sample from the book, just a portion from the chapter entitled Life Out Of Death:

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today.

That is a prayer, and a poetic allusion to God’s plan of salvation. It is by trusting in Christ’s Calvary work that we are saved. Through personal faith in Him we are born again, born into the family of God. The Bible says,"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born…of God" (John 1:12-13). And the offer still stands. In the words of Phillips Brooks:

Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Get a copy of Discovering the Songs of Christmas here!


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