No singing

November 30, 2020 · Print This Article

My YouTube viewing this week has been peppered with Christmas adverts. We have entered the season – and I’m already feeling nauseous! But this year there will be one noticeable absence.

No congregation carol singing. Even the multi-generational, hodgepodge at your door will have to remain there whilst they “Fa, la, la, la, la, la” and social distancing at the same time.

But churches up and down the country will be silent over this usually vocal time of year. Even the famous King’s College, Cambridge, iconic Christmas Eve Carol Service will not have the help of the public’s throaty excesses, as the pews will be empty.

Who would have thought one of Covid’s victims would be congregational singing! But the show must go on, King’s has decided. The service, minus the congregation, will still be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4. However, the usual injection of chorused voices to the opening song, Once in Royal David’s City, will not be heard.

So what will these singers have missed? Well, some of the more intriguing words about the life of Jesus. Words which speak of a phenomenon peculiar to the Christian faith; that the God of heaven’s entry into the world saw him take up residence in a cattle shed! Not the grand entrance one would expect for such a VIP. I wonder whether God was trying to communicate something? Maybe there’s a clue in the words of this poem turned carol:

“Day by day like us He grew,

He was little, weak, and helpless,

Tears and smiles like us He knew,

And He feeleth for our sadness,

And He shareth in our gladness.”

These words capture something very human about our first encounter with this Jesus. But more than that, they describe how God seemed to be eager to share in our life, condition and pain; to experience things just “like us”. It’s curious to consider why. I wonder if it allows God to be more relatable, more attainable, more approachable.

Certainly, 2020 has left many of us worst off materially, and maybe emotionally. But there is something encouraging to consider when it comes to this lowly story in such economy trying times. For me, I see in this story of the birth of Jesus an example of how God has somehow shared in our discomfort and need. And that his life shows us that things can get better even if you start from a stable.

Maybe that’s worth singing about.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

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