Christmas Carol Theology

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!

Christmas is truly a wonderful time of the year. What other time of the year do you constantly hear songs of praise to God across radio stations and public places like the grocery store and shopping malls? Even when the world around us spends more and more time focusing away from Christ as the Christmases go on, every now and again it rings out: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” “Born is the King of Israel!” Exclamations of praise and joy keep leaping forth from these time tested Christmas hymns.

About a week ago, I went to a Tuba Christmas event with my wife and son. It is a band made up entirely of tubas and baritones. As an aside, they hold these events all over the country every year. You can simply go to the website to find a location near you! It’s a new tradition of ours to go to it every year. I was struck by the fact that I sat in an auditorium joined by hundreds of strangers, singing the name of Jesus and proclaiming His saving birth. Now, I don’t know all those people personally, so I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s a fair guess to assume that not every person there was a believer. And probably some of them were joining in the singing just for the spirit of the occasion. But nonetheless, there we were, singing songs that tell of the Messiah.

So, for this post I’ve pulled together a bunch of lyrics from various carols. Some of them you may have never heard before, and others it’s likely you’ve sung a hundred times. Unfortunately, like a road that you’ve traveled over and over again, and due to familiarity you no longer give any mind to the details along the way but rather go the route on autopilot, the same can happen with these familiar songs. When Christmas time rolls around, it can be very easy to sing straight through these hymns without even thinking. I hope this survey focusing on the great theology found in some of these songs is encouraging to you this Christmas!


Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head. – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

In a way, the coming of Christ is foretold at almost the very beginning of Scripture. This lyric refers to the earliest gospel promise ever given. Amazingly, that promise came immediately after the fall of man. The Lord truly is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, the serpent was cursed as well. As part of the curse, the Lord had said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15) So part of this curse was hostility and strife between Satan and all people as the offspring of Eve. But immediately mixed in with the curse is a promise. At Christmas especially, we celebrate Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of that promise. His heel was bruised in the crucifixion, but a fatal head wound was dealt to Satan in the process.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave. – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This lyric refers to the prophecy in Isaiah 11. Jesse was the father of David. And it was of David that the Lord had said, “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.” (Jer. 33:17) And by human genealogy Jesus had descended from David. The rod refers to His authority and rulership. This verse is phrased as prayer, rather than praise, but we know that the answer to this prayer is yes and amen in Jesus. The saving work of God is that our eyes are opened so that we “may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. – Silent Night

I have a son. I watched him being born a little more than two years ago. It’s hard to imagine a newborn baby that is incapable of doing hardly anything for itself besides breathing as the Lord of heaven and earth. But that is what this song, and more importantly, what the Bible says. Among other prophecies that teach the same truth, it was said, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6) “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” (Heb. 1:1-3)

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created. – O Come, All Ye Faithful

This verse says so much truth that is filled with mystery to our finite human minds in such a concise way. O come, let us adore the uncreated Son of God! I say with the apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3,14)

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down. – Angels From the Realms of Glory

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save! – Good Christian Men, Rejoice!

“After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”(Heb. 1:3; 2:14-15)

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!” – While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

The announcement of peace from heaven is wonderful, for it was not announced to anyone who deserved it or had earned it. Jesus Christ came into a world that loves the darkness rather than light. He is a light shining in the darkness. He came into a world that was far off from Him spiritually speaking. We must not forget that Christ does not come to perfect people just waiting to receive what they’ve always deserved. It may be hard to accept, but when Christ came into the world, and when He comes to us now, He comes to those who are sons of disobedience, and by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2) and from that source material He makes a new creation. This is what makes the proclamation of peace so wonderful. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone. – Once in Royal David’s City

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3) Merry Christmas brothers and sisters! Be encouraged this Christmas season, and let us proclaim His saving name!

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.


Bonus 🙂

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