It occurs to me that most of my favorite Christmas music is old. Like hundreds of years old. The universally loved “Silent Night,” has been around for almost 200 years, as have most of the carols we find in our church hymnals. Even the newer favorite “Mary Did You Know” is thirtysomething.
Even the secular music I enjoy the most is getting on in years: “White Christmas,” 1940; “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), 1945; and “Santa Claus In Coming to Town”, 1934.
It’s just not easy to come up with a new song that says it as well as the old ones do. My sentiment, at least. Though Michael W. Smith gave us a very nice, “Welcome to Our World,” in 1997 (words and music by Chris Rice).
One day this week I heard a song about a little donkey who was scrawny, had long ears, and the other little donkeys all made fun of him. I didn’t hear all the song as I arrived at work and didn’t stay in the car to listen, but I think I know where it was going. Kind of like the reindeer with the shiny nose, maybe?
A song published last year but I heard it for the first time recently is “I Wonder What God Wants for Christmas.” When I heard the title, I was thinking that a similar question was asked by Christina Rosetti in 1872, “What Can I Give Him?”
But as a friend shared Darius Rucker’s video of “I Wonder What God Wants…” on YouTube, a bit of the lyrics struck me. The melody is nice and the montage beautiful. Several items are listed that God might want: no empty pews in church, peace on earth, no Bibles covered with dust, and so on. The most amazing line of this song comes somewhere in the middle: “What if we believed in Him like he believes in us?”
Wow. God must believe in us. He trusts us to take care of the poor. He planned for us to love and comfort and encourage one another. He expects us to take care of the world He created.
“What Can I GIve Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb
If I were a wiseman, I would do my part.
Yet what I can, I’ll give him. Give my heart.”
Christina Rosetti, 1872
“More sister, more brother, more lovin’ one another
By now we oughta know what God wants for Christmas.”
Darius Rucker, 2014