Have you ever noticed that the words of some of your favorite Christmas carols make you uncomfortable? Maybe they frame the holy spirit in a way you don’t. Maybe their picture of Jesus isn’t yours. Or maybe they go too far in the other direction, pretending naively–or with obnoxious commercialism–that the holiday is really about Santa Claus and gifts.
I love Christmas for its traditions–food, evergreens, decorations, family, gifts, and, yeah…food. (I love food.) Raised in a vaguely Judeo-Christian tradition, I don’t call myself a Christian, but I deeply admire Jesus, and singing to celebrate his birthday seems like a good idea to me. I just need the right kind of song to sing.
So I wrote one.
Come ALL Ye Faithful by G. Wing, 2012
O come all ye faithful and sing a Christmas song That doesn’t make non-Christians feel as though they don’t belong
Let’s sing about a birthday that brings so many joy
A humble, patient mother and a tiny baby boy.
I know that we can’t all agree on what the season means
So let’s avoid divisive lines that highlight our extremes
For some Christ is the Savior, for some he is the King
But for many, Jesus’ teachings are the real gift he brings.
A man of peace, a man of prayer, who turns the other cheek
And preaches that the earth belongs to the blessed meek
Now that’s a man whose birthday anyone could celebrate
Without regard to questions of his anointed state.
So Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, and yes, even atheists
Should all feel welcome in this song to join with Christian deists
And sing a joyful glo-o-ria about a starry night
Without the lyrics telling them their own beliefs aren’t right.
If you find this song offensive to your sensibilities
Just look at all the Santas and the glowing Christmas trees
If they can all be blended with a Christian world view
Then surely you can harmonize this carol with them too.
In honor of the season, here’s a classical Madonna and Child image:
And here’s one a little closer to my heart, Dorothea Lange’s 1936 Migrant Mother:
If you want to hear what my Christmas carol sounds like, send me your email and I’ll send you a recording. Meanwhile, whatever it means to you: Merry Christmas!