Facts & Trends asked a few influential leaders in the Church about their favorite songs to sing or listen to at Christmas—and how these songs speak to them so deeply.
Here’s what they said.
Derwin Gray: lead pastor of Transformation Church (Indian Land, South Carolina); author of Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future; former NFL player
“Silent Night” is my favorite Christmas carol. My favorite part of the song is,
Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing, alleluia
Christ the savior is born,
Christ the savior is born.
I love these words because they display God’s glory coming to the world. Finally, the long-awaited Savior is born.
Karen Swallow Prior: Liberty University English professor and author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books, as well as several other books.
My favorite Christmas carol is Isaac Watts’ “Joy to the World” because it is so theologically and poetically rich. My favorite stanza—for both of these reasons—is the last:
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.
Where else can you find such pure doctrine so beautifully and compellingly expressed?
Russell Moore: president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and author of The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, and The Gospel for Life series
My favorite Christmas carol is a harder question than I might have thought it would have been. So many of my favorite Christmas songs resonate so deeply with the central themes of my life and ministry.
“Joy to the World” sums up the kingdom of Christ: “He comes to make his blessings known, far as the curse is found.”
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” focuses away from the “holly, jolly” sentimentality of Christmas toward its biblical meaning: spiritual warfare. The incarnate One has to come “to save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray.”
The carol hits the right tone both with the lyrics and with the music—somewhat dark, mysterious, but concluding with “tidings of comfort and joy.” That sounds, come to think of it, much like the Christian life itself.[epq-quote align=”align-right”]The only thing better than singing such magnificent words with such an exuberant tune is knowing they are true. — @drmoore[/epq-quote]I’ll even admit I’m vulnerable to loving “The Little Drummer Boy,” especially the moment when the song reaches that height of “I played my best for him…” I love the joy in that.
I also want to kneel down and tell that little boy, “You really don’t need to perform for Him; you’re loved and accepted, adopted for life.”
But, in the end, I would choose, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” because it’s hard to match the rightful exuberance of that song. It reminds me very much of “Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus” and the hymn “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”
All three give me, every time I sing them, a sense of nostalgia for the future, a little glimmer of what it might be to stand before the heavenly throne of the triumphant Christ. And, the carol pulsates with gospel: “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”
The only thing better than singing such magnificent words with such an exuberant tune is knowing they are true.
Carol Pipes: editor-in-chief for Facts & Trends and director of communications for Lifeway Christian Resources
I have a special affinity for the carol “Go, Tell it on the Mountain.” At the church where I grew up, this song was always the last carol sung at the Christmas Eve candlelight service.
Candles were lighted accompanied by the singing of “Silent Night.” But then we’d raise our candles and voices singing, “Go, tell it”—a great reminder that not only do we rejoice and celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord, but we are also called to tell others everywhere this Good News.
What’s your favorite—and why? Tell us in the comments.