Why sing Psalms at Christmas?

This is a reprint of something I whipped up for our bulletin last Sunday explaining why we continue to sing Psalms during Advent season (not exclusively, of course).

Why Sing Psalms at Christmas?
Some may wonder why we continue to sing Psalms during Advent season. The short answer is that we are committed to Psalm singing. The longer answer is that long before most Christmas songs were even penned, churches were singing Psalms to celebrate Christ’s Incarnation. These especially include Psalms 45, 72, 89, 95-98, 110, and 132. C.S. Lewis is worth quoting at length on this point (from Reflections on the Psalms):

“We find…that Psalm 110 is one of those appointed for Christmas Day. We may at first be surprised by this. There is nothing in it about peace and good-will, nothing remotely suggestive of the stable at Bethlehem. It seems to have been originally either a coronation ode for a new king, promising conquest and empire, or a poem addressed to some king on the eve of a war, promising victory…The note is not ‘Peace and good-will’ but ‘Beware. He’s coming’…

“All this emphasizes an aspect of the Nativity to which our later sentiment about Christmas does less than justice. For those who first read these Psalms as poems about the birth of Christ, that birth primarily meant something very militant; the hero, the ‘judge’ or champion or giant-killer, who was to fight and beat death, hell and the devil, had at last arrived, and the evidence suggests that Our Lord also thought of Himself in those terms.”



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