Advent music is marked by the sober reality of waiting. In songs like “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” and “O Come, O Come Emanuel”, we find a somber contract to the joy and celebration that Christmas ushers in.
“Joy to the World”, although technically an Easter song referring to Christ’s second Advent, is a song appropriate for the season of Christmas, which begins on December 25th.
The Church’s year begins at this intersection between Advent’s waiting and the celebration of Christmas.
Advent is a time of anticipation and an opportunity to enter into the suffering and sober reality of those who longed for a Messiah for generations.
Christmas, then, is a time of rapturous joy when the wait is over.
For the weeks of Advent, we remember and we recalibrate.
For the twelve days of Christmas, we laugh and we feast and we celebrate.
Advent is remembrance.
Christmas is a party.
Now, of course, if you sing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” during Advent, your joy is no less worthy.
There is no need to let legalism overshadow an opportunity for the beauty of liturgy.
Liturgy is a gift, not a set of shackles.
Liturgy is an act of intentionality.
It is a refusal to be swept through days upon days of living mindlessly and to insist instead upon remembrance of the beautiful realities of the believing life.
Liturgy is an act of resistance to modernity’s brand of forgetfulness and a seizing of the beauty of mindful living.
Liturgy is traditional and memory, entered in as the collective and global Church.
The Church’s year is a treasure but it is a treasure largely forgotten by evangelicalism.
As we’ve (rightfully) embraced our freedom, we’ve oft forgotten that remembrance and tradition aren’t antithetical to liberty.
There is something immeasurably sacred about observing and remembering the coming of Christ “alongside” millions of believers from every tribe and tongue as we briefly enter into the past and remember what it gifted us before turning our eyes to the future glory to come.
The distinction between Advent and Christmas music is just one of many opportunities to embrace liturgy….wait, then celebrate.