Opinion Op Ed 23 Dec 2017 Mystic Mantra: Chris ...
Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of the Parliament of Religions, can be contacted at frdominic@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Christmas & carols

Published Dec 23, 2017, 12:55 am IST
Updated Dec 23, 2017, 12:55 am IST
The event of child Jesus’ birth though, by any worldly standards, was really a non-event.
Christmas tree
 Christmas tree

Don’t be surprised if a group of singers with a small band come knocking at your door today or tomorrow and start singing, what in the Christian tradition are known as Christmas carols. Carols actually used to be sung by people around December 21 and 22, even before Christmas came into being, these being the shortest days of the year. By 129 AD, however, the first Christmas carols were sung. Carol means “song of praise and joy”. There is certainly joy in the air as Christmas Day nears and this joy is expressed not just by decorations of the star and the Christmas tree, not to mention Santa Claus among others, but also through the appealing Christmas carols. But when one examines the actual Christmas event as it then happened, one wonders as to how this event could at all ring “joy”, as the carol goes: “Joy to the world; The Lord has come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room; And heaven and nature sing…”

These and other expressive lyrics of Christmas carols have obviously developed over the years. The event of child Jesus’ birth though, by any worldly standards, was really a non-event. For, in the crowded Bethlehem that evening, Joseph and Mary could not even find an accommodation for, as the carol says: “The earth to receive her King”. The paradox does not end there. Christmas is essentially God deciding to take on a human form, leaving his heavenly abode and “bending” so very low down so as to reach out to us humans living below. What is fascinating about the Christmas event is that while taking on the human form, God avoids choosing a royal palace or some well-known family or a highly-recognised and populated country. In his gesture of “bending down”, and proclaiming his love for every individual, his preference shines forth for the poor, the simple and the unrecognised of the earth. His choice is a stable. And again the message of his birth is first given out by the angels in “carols” to the shepherds in the fields. And it is they who were privileged to be the first ones to greet the little baby Jesus and his parents. 

 

Yet another carol reveals the real meaning of Christmas further: “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of our dear saviour’s birth; Long lay the world in sin and error pining; Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth…” The crux of God “bending down” on this holy night is to make each one of us cherish our real worth in God’s presence. As well as soothing our souls, the Christmas carols also bring the good tidings of “our saviour’s birth”. A Merry Christmas then.

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