I had a shiver-down-the-spine moment in my car yesterday. It was not the cold. Nor was it my driving. I was listening to the radio and they played Annie Lennox singing ‘See Amid The Winter’s Snow’.
Ooooooh. It was a combination of her wonderful voice, a beautiful arrangement and the words that sent the shiver:
See, amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on Earth below,
See, the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.
Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits among the cherubim.
Say, ye holy shepherds,say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?
“As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing ‘Peace On Earth’
Told us of the Saviour’s birth.”
Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.
It was so inspiring that I have ordered the CD (‘Christmas Cornucopia’). I know, I am a bit old fashioned in wanting a CD rather than downloading the album, but there is still something significant to me in having something tangible in my hands rather than just data streams on the computer / MP3 player. I have had disappointments a couple of times now where I have bought tracks online and then the place from which I have bought them has ceased trading or I have stopped a subscription and lost the licence to play them – effectively losing the songs. At least a CD is there in my hands.
There is an incarnational analogy there if you don’t push it too far. Jesus’ birth means that we have a tangible experience of God rather than ‘just’ hearing from him through his prophets. And we are called to be free samples of Jesus – making him incarnate in people’s lives now. Do we send a shiver down people’s spine? Not because we are creepy or scary but because they have had an encounter with Jesus through us.
A group of children decided to raise some money for a local charity so they went carol singing around their community. They knocked on one door and a man opened it to them. After a quick untuneful rendition of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ they went on to murder ‘Silent Night’.
When they had finished the man had tears running down his face.
“Are you okay mister?” asked the oldest child. “Did that bring back memories for you?”
“No,” said the man, “I am a music teacher.”