Karen Brown answers the questions to the carol ‘What child is this’
This series is built on Worship Leader Paul Baloche Christmas Worship Devotional
What Child Is This
“What Child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”
Although the melody to this song was written in the 16th Century (and the lyrics in 1865), we’re still singing it today. Doesn’t that boggle your mind? How can such a quaint little song live so LONG?
Perhaps because it was imprinted upon our hearts when we were young. The great conductor Leonard Bernstein once said, “Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.” Isn’t that what this ancient song has done within the minds and hearts of countless children?
During those tender years of youth, this song carved an indelible niche in the canon of Christmas music. After being sung countless times in school assemblies and church programs, “What Child Is This?” was ceremoniously tucked away in January and then brought out again that next December, like a family heirloom emerging from a trunk in the attic.
Even when we grow older, the sound of this Christmas carol can waft through the air and stir powerful memories, just as the sight of a family ornament can stop the clock and make us dream. Why are these gentle memories so precious to us? Because they are an intimate remembrance of our first Christmas, and will still be sacred when we celebrate our last.
Memories aren’t just important to human beings; they’re important to God. Over and over in scripture, the Lord commanded His people to REMEMBER the moments of divine visitation. Why did He do this? Because he knew that human beings have a short attention span and, as the cares and troubles of this world take their toll, spiritual events can be easily forgotten.
As the Lord warned His people: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them…You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides Him there is no other. From heaven He made you hear His voice…” (Deuteronomy 4: 9-10; 35-36)
The sacredness of celebrating historical events played a huge part in the keeping of faith, and devout Jews around the world still teach their children the reality of God’s Presence through stories, songs, feasts and festivals. Why should Christians be any different?
Christmas carols are a tradition of our faith, enduring long after the songwriters have perished from the earth. Even after our grandparents have passed away, the spiritual songs they sang to us endure within our hearts so we can teach our children what they taught us, our children can teach their children…and on and on it goes.
In the past few decades, many devout Christians have decided to boycott Christmas because of its pagan traditions and over-emphasis on spending. This is certainly understandable, but must we throw out the baby with the bathwater? These psalms, hymns and spiritual songs have enlightened many a dark December for millions of people, and engraved their words upon the minds of so many children. Can’t we just toss out some of the tinsel and keep the treasure?
How about less shopping…and more singing?