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A Song to the Lord

All We Really Need - "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing"

In his book Hidden Christmas, Timothy Keller draws a comparison between receiving advice and receiving news.

“Advice is counsel about what you must do. News is a report about what has already been done. Advice urges you to make something happen. News urges you to recognize something that has already happened and to respond to it.”[1] Keller then applies this distinction to the biblical narratives of Christmas. “There is no ‘moral of the story’ to the nativity. The shepherds, the parents of Jesus, the wise men are not being held up primarily as examples for us. These Gospel narratives are telling you not what you should do but what God has done.”

One evening some two-thousand years ago, a celestial news broadcast gave a few select men on a Judean hillside a message about the greatest event in human history. It was an up-to-the-minute report about a birth that had just happened that night. The news was delivered by angelic messengers who had come directly from “the Source” to report about the event.

I bring you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:10-12 NRSV

All that remained was for the shepherds to respond to the news, find the Child, and worship the newborn Savior. The traditional Sussex Carol calls on all Christians to likewise join in the response of adoration and praise. 

On Christmas night, all Christians sing to hear the news the angels bring.
On Christmas night, all Christians sing to hear the news the angels bring:
News of great joy, news of great mirth, news of our merciful King’s birth.

When we respond to news we receive, the nature of our response usually matches the message we received. To a tragic occurrence the response is sadness or sorrow. But to “good news of great joy” – the news that our bondage to sin has been broken – there can be only one response – gladness and joy! There is a Puritan prayer which calls on God to hear the intercession that Jesus makes in heaven today for us and to “. . . whisper to my heart, ‘Thy sins are forgiven, be of good cheer; lie down in peace.”[3] The forgiveness of our sins is the true gladness that replaces our deep sadness. On this Christmas Eve, we respond with joy to the news of the arrival of the One who delivers us from our bondage – redeems us from our slavery – to sin. 

Then why should men on earth be sad, since our Redeemer made us glad.
Then why should men on earth be sad, since our Redeemer made us glad:
When from our sin he set us free, all for to gain our liberty. 

When sin departs before Your grace, then life and health come in its place.
When sin departs before Your grace, then life and health come in its place:
Angels and men with joy may sing, all for to see the newborn King.

The same Puritan prayer continues, “Unsought, Thou hast given me the greatest gift, the person of Thy Son, and in Him Thou wilt give me all I need.”[4] Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, understood that the coming Messiah would address every human need, and offered his praise to the One whom his son would “prepare the way” for. 

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 
Luke 1:78-79 NRSV

Why is this night so special? We have been given spiritual life and health to heal the disease of sin in our lives – light to dispel darkness as a “tender mercy” from God – deliverance from a life characterized by death and into a life of peace. Why on Christmas night should all Christians sing? Because God has done this by giving us a great gift – the greatest gift – the gift of Himself – our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ – and He is all we really need. May praise fill our hearts and minds and flow out of our voices because of this “good news.”

All out of darkness we have light which made the angels sing this night.
All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night:
“Glory to God and peace to men, now and forevermore. Amen.”

Enjoy this rendition of Sussex Carol by the King’s College Cambridge choir.

 

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Rusty Rabon

Rusty Rabon has served in vocational Christian ministry in local churches since 1981. He also served as a Christian radio announcer for 15 years. He married his wife Terri in 1978 and they have 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. You can find books by Rusty Rabon here.

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