I can agree with Advocate humour columnist Harley Hay that there is a difference between carols and Christmas songs, and that the latter may be expensive in style or substance, but I certainly cannot agree with his statements that there is a difference between carols, some of which are tolerated by tradition alone!
Yes, it is traditional to sing carols at Christmas, but the singing of them is for the remembrance of an event that turned the world upside down, and that is why they are sung with joy, love and zeal!
That event was the coming of God into the world in the person of Jesus the Christ! Creator and Saviour! He is not just there with millions of stars, black holes and explosive materials. He is with us in heart and soul and life, and this is the substance of the carols!
During my more than 70 years service in the Anglican church, I have taken Christmas Day services in small country churches, some large city churches and cathedrals, as well as in military base halls and a prison, and everywhere with overflowing congregations: and the same can be said of my earlier years when I was a choir boy! Of course, we have changed over the years!
I remember the days when we hung up our stockings and found most of our gifts in there: an apple and orange and a few nuts and a chocolate bar and one other small gift. Perhaps there was a pair of stockings and after breakfast we went to church. That was in England and Scotland. But on the prairies during the ’30s and ’40s it wasn’t much better or bigger – a little more perhaps, but no standing in lines to get into stores, etc. and family dinners maybe a turkey rather than pork and gifts were still small and usually something to wear.
Church services expanded from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve, and maybe both! But in those days life was much quieter, less hubbub, less criminality and less violence – society was much more secure!
Today we are more affluent, more busy, etc. and spending as if there is no tomorrow! And we are certainly not more secure.
The daily newspapers and TV are replete with horror stories revealing that we are more secular and less religious and more distressed about home and world affairs! We desperately need the peace that the Christmas message can give to us!
The Christmas tradition is that we love one another with a pure heart fervently! The message of Christmas and its carols is not expensive!
Rev. T. L. Leadbeater