Earlier this week, I was quietly wrapping my Christmas presents in the evening while watching TV. Suddenly I heard beautiful singing right outside my window, so I paused the programme and called my husband, who was preparing dinner in the kitchen. Sure enough, there were a group of carol singers under the lamppost outside our house. They were singing tunefully in 4-part harmony. I immediately asked if I could join them (I knew at least half of them anyway!), so I pulled on my warmest boots, coat, hat, scarf and gloves and ran out to sing with them. It turns out my voice was a helpful supplement as they only started with one alto.
That was a lovely moment of serendipity that I will remember forever. I joined in again the next night. We had a proper choir conductor leading us, so the sound we made was pretty good.
The reactions we had were lovely. People hung out of their upstairs windows listening, clapped, wished us a merry Christmas and generally had joy added to their lives. Carols tell the story of the entry of the Messiah into the world more than 2,000 years ago. People still like to hear about this, even though in their daily lives, most of them (judging by church attendance) don’t pay Him any heed. There is a craving in the human heart for the truths sent down from above. There are endless ways of singing about Jesus because His kingdom is everlasting, as are His mercies. People have a nostalgia for the old ways, a longing deep inside for how things used to be.
It used to be normal to attend church weekly, and people would be a part of their local community through it. I still think that the happiest people are those involved with a local church. I had a childhood punctuated by the weekly routine of choir practice and church and all the festivities associated with it.
Perhaps that is why people still like to attend Carol services and midnight mass on Christmas Eve. We get so many people at the carol service in our large Baptist church that we have to do the service twice in the same evening. It’s a presentation of the love of God and His son coming into the world. People lap it up. They love it.