george hancock stefanI am thankful that so many radio stations become Christmas radio stations during the Advent Season. Some changed their musical repertoire the day after Thanksgiving. I remarked to one of my daughters that I have been paying closer attention to what is being played on the radio this year. I have heard new carols this year—both secular and Christian. While some were written more recently, many of them come from different cultures and traditions.

I admit that I don’t understand some of the songs. The carol about the boy’s mother dying on Christmas confuses me to no end. I do not know what the song is trying to elicit from me. Is this a simple story? Am I supposed to send my money to needy children? Or should the song remind me that people die, including mothers, sometimes even on Christmas?

There are a number of secular holiday songs that stand on their own without Christ. They have lyrics about love and giving gifts, traveling from afar, and longing to be reunited with family members that resonate during the holidays and throughout the year.

But there are other songs that make me think deeply about their meaning. As someone who loves to study the roots of words and their impact when they are written, spoken, or sung, I listen carefully to song lyrics. As I listen, I remember that songs are not just the creations of composers and lyricists. Many of the songs that I know in English have been translated from other languages and I appreciate the linguistic expertise of the translators. While I appreciate the music, words, translations, soloists, orchestras, and choirs, I remember that all of them have the same goal – to worship and to praise Jesus Christ, the everlasting Son of God, the Newborn in the stable of Bethlehem.