If you live in the vicinity of Athens, AL or will be in the area December 17 and 18 — next week — I want to cordially invite you to our choir’s Christmas program called “An Athens Christmas.” It will be presented at 6:00 p.m. both evenings in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church at the corner of Clinton and Hobbs St. We have been working diligently on our music, and I believe it will be a worshipful service that will greatly contribute to your holiday spirit. Admission is free. Look for me in the alto section. 🙂
In the middle of all the attention we pay to notes and rhythm, the WORDS will be the most important part we need to communicate. I actually like ALL of the songs we’re singing this year, and our soloists are outstanding. One you will recognize is a very jazzy, jivey arrangement of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
In 2002, Steve and I had our tickets ready to leave for Ecuador on December 27, a mere two days after Christmas. We were spending a lot of time saying good-bye to family and friends and getting in hugs that would need to last for a very long time. On the Sunday morning before our departure, we were asked to “say a few words” to the congregation at Central Baptist Church in Decatur. I used the song “Go Tell It On the Mountain” to help in asking our fellow church members to pray for us. Since we were going to be serving in the Andes Mountains, I asked them to visualize a mountain in every way they could — a mountain of work piled on their desk, a mountain of laundry waiting for the washing machine, a trip to the mountains for vacation, etc. etc. — and to let that word be a trigger for remembering us as we started our work. It was a rallying cry, so to speak. So, every time we sing the song, I remember that time.
Two other words have become dear to me, also, as we’ve rehearsed this fall. “Noel” and “hallelujah.”
In a strict sense, Noel means Christmas. Joyeux noel in French means “Merry Christmas.” But the word COULD be derived from the French word novelles, which means news. I like to believe that at Christmas time the meaning is news, and not just news but GOOD NEWS. “The first noel the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter’s night that was so deep. Noel. Noel. Noel. Noel. Born is the King of Israel.” Yes. Very, very good news indeed.
The first and last songs in our program contain a LOT of “Hallelujahs.” PRAISE THE LORD is the meaning. Hallelujah and Alleluia mean the same thing. It is interesting that this word is found 50 times in the Old Testament but in only one setting in the New Testament. In Revelation 19, at the wedding feast of the Lamb, after all of the enemies of God have been destroyed and Christ is victorious over all, HALLELUJAH is the only word strong, majestic and grand enough to describe the outpouring of praise and rejoicing that will happen in heaven by God’s people. So, I will happily sing those words in our program and picture the time to come when we’ll sing it in heaven.
Read Revelation 19:1-6 and enjoy those “hallelujahs!”