Have you ever stopped to listen to the words of the Christmas hymns and really think about what they mean? Read more to find out how Christmas hymns help us focus on Jesus!
If you go to the mall on a Saturday at Christmastime, you’ll probably find a full parking lot as throngs of people hunt for the perfect gifts for family and friends. Undaunted, you find a spot and then head inside, ready (and maybe a little excited) to join in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. As you go from store to store, the background music catches your attention. It’s one of your favorite Christmas hymns, so you happily begin humming along.
Suddenly, it hits you. This song is about Jesus, and it’s playing right there in the mall! Now you’re not only thinking about the people on your shopping list, you’re also thinking about the reason we celebrate the season in the first place. As you look at the other shoppers around you, you think about how they are listening to the music, too. Whether they realize it or not, everyone in the store is listening to the wonderful truth of God’s Son come to earth.
Celebrating with Christmas Hymns
Christmas hymns are songs that focus on the birth of Jesus. These hymns are often sung in church, during worship services, on the radio, and sometimes even in shopping malls. While many of us enjoy singing the hymns at Christmas, there’s actually much more to these songs than just another holiday tradition.
Christmas hymns aren’t just inspiring words set to beautiful music. They actually convey a very important message. For example, most people know that these hymns tell the story of the birth of Jesus, but did you know they actually express so much more? These songs reassure us of His awesome power and His faithfulness to His promises. They tell of God’s great love for us and His plan of salvation, beginning all the way back to the first book in the Old Testament. Pay close attention to the words, and you’ll hear the story of the gospel. Suddenly, Christmas hymns take on a whole new meaning.
I have to confess, I don’t always pay attention. Often I’ll catch myself singing the hymns without a lot of thought. Sometimes, I’m surprised I even know some of the words. For example, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel has the lines, “O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free – Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.” I can sing along, but what does the word “rod” mean? And who’s Jesse? And what about “Satan’s tyranny?” Why are we singing these words at Christmas, anyway?
The lyrics in the Christmas hymns actually have important meanings. They’re not just lovely-sounding poetic stanzas with a few biblical phrases thrown in. Learning what the lyrics mean can give your children (and you!) a better understanding of why we celebrate Christmas. When your family sings the hymns, they won’t just be singing words on a page. Each time they sing, they can be reminded of God’s great love for us in sending His Son. That’s why we created this brand new Bible study, Adoration at the Manger!
Importance of the Words
As you go through the study with your family, you’ll take a close look at some of the Christmas hymns. Like me, you’ll probably find there’s a lot more to these hymns than just traditional holiday songs. You’ll find out what the lyrics of the hymns actually mean and discover many Biblical truths in them. The words to the hymns include references to prophecies and promises about the Messiah Who was to come. They tell about the events of that holy night, when the prophecies were finally fulfilled. The lyrics also express the promise for our future together forever with Him. In short, Christmas hymns are all about the story of salvation.
But we shouldn’t just take the songwriter’s word for it. We always want to hold the lyrics up against the truth of Scripture. In this study, we’ll get to look at how the lyrics of the Christmas hymns compare with passages from the Bible. You’ll see just how accurately the hymn’s words reflect the biblical account of Jesus’ birth and the prophecies surrounding it.
And of course, we’ll want to look at how the hymns celebrate the birth of Jesus. Through the study, we’ll take a closer look at the words used to describe that miraculous event. We’ll take note of the shepherds, the angels, the town— all of the things involved in the joyous celebration of the Savior’s arrival. And as we do, you’ll see how Jesus’ birth is proof of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us.
Meditating on Scripture through Hymn Study
There’s one other thing that’s important to mention. When we hear and sing the hymns throughout the holiday season, we’re thinking about them again and again. Once we understand what they mean, we’re not just singing along to a Christmas song. We’re reminding ourselves of the truth of God’s great love and His plan for salvation. We’re worshipping God.
Think of it this way. We meditate on Scripture by thinking about it over and over again. We trust the Holy Spirit to show us how to apply it to our lives. In a similar way, you can meditate on the hymns. When you have these hymns running through your mind that are full of truths you understand, your attention will be drawn back to the real reason we’re celebrating. Even gift-giving will look different as the focus shifts from commercialism to the best gift of all— salvation through Christ.
Adoration at the Manger: A Christmas Hymn Study
Our Adoration at the Manger Bible study shows how Christmas hymns were written to tell the story of Jesus coming to earth as our Savior. By looking at both God’s word and classic Christmas hymns, this Christmas Bible study explains the true meaning of Christmas in a meaningful, memorable way! It is designed to be done as a family with age-appropriate levels for each family member. It would also be ideal to do with a Sunday school class or a small group of your child’s friends. Or, you might give it as an early Christmas gift to other friends or family members.
We also have beautiful Adoration at the Manger Ornaments to go along with our Christmas hymn study. As you complete each lesson, hang the corresponding ornament on the tree, and your family will be reminded of the truth and beauty of these Christmas hymns.
I’m confident that by studying the different Christmas hymns, your family will be encouraged to celebrate the season with a new understanding of what the holiday is really about. It may sound cliché, but it’s so true: He is the reason for the season!
With 20 years of homeschooling her four children, Samantha Bell has experienced many of the highs and lows — but mostly highs — of the homeschooling journey. Besides teaching her own children, she has taught art, creative writing, and history at homeschooling co-ops. She is also a children’s author and illustrator, writing primarily non-fiction books for students in first grade through high school. When she’s not at the computer, you might find her working on a painting, taking a walk through the woods, traveling to a family event, or just sitting with a cat on her lap.