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Monday, December 16, 2013

What Does Christmas Music Really Teach?

Whether sung by one voice or many, played on an organ or by an orchestra, the emotion-charged music of Christmas tends to program people for its celebration. On the surface, the power inherent in this music may seem good and beneficial. After all, many verses of these Christmas songs deal with religious themes and encourage kindness, generosity, goodwill and peace. Nevertheless, when Christmas music and its words are examined in the light of God’s truth as revealed in the Holy Bible, some startling facts come into view.

Are They Truthful?

It might surprise you that anyone would raise questions about the truthfulness of popular Christmas songs (carols). But as you will see, some oft-overlooked facts deserve our honest attention. ‘What facts?’ you may wonder.

For example, a number of carols declare that Jesus was born on Christmas Day, December 25. Is this true? To be frank, the facts answer no! Do not these musical verses about Christmas amount, then, to errors or distortions of truth? They might even be described as falsehood set to melody.

Obviously, these songs are not teaching the truth about the Christmas season. Could they be pleasing, therefore, to the One about whom the apostle Paul said, ‘God cannot lie’? (Titus 1:2) Further, is singing them the way to worship God “with spirit and truth,” which Jesus said is so important? (John 4:24) Actually, “Jehovah the God of truth,” and his Son, Jesus Christ, who is “the way and the truth and the life,” are honored by truth, not by melodic falsehoods. (Psalm 31:5; John 14:6) Furthermore, at Christmastime when these carols are sung, many clergymen quote Luke’s words about the shepherds as a basis for the December 25 celebration of Christmas. (Luke 2:8-14) However, neither this nor any other scripture gives support to the Christmas festive season. The Bible makes it clear that manipulating God’s Word to make it say something it is not saying leads to his adverse judgment. In the extreme case of the false prophets in Israel who “changed the words of the living God,” they paid with their lives.—Jeremiah 23:16-22, 29-32, 36; Deuteronomy 12:32; 18:20; Proverbs 30:5, 6.

Hence, no matter how beautiful Christmas music may sound, we cannot ignore the seriousness of its lyrics that contradict God’s Word. Jehovah is repelled by untruth, especially when it runs directly counter to his revealed truth. (Psalm 5:4-6) Many humans may be so moved by glorious harmonies and delightful melodies that they ignore any falsehoods being sung, but we can be sure that that is not the case with God and with his Son, Jesus. They do not desire praise to the extent that they will approve of lyrics peppered with flattering falsehoods.

Should We Commemorate?

Here is another aspect to consider: Do you know of any Biblical evidence that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ want us to commemorate Jesus’ birth, even if we intended to do it at the time of year that corresponds to Biblical evidence?

Like the good Father that he is, Jehovah God is always very specific about what he requires of his worshipers. He carefully spells out what we must do to gain his favor and blessings. He often repeats things to avoid any misunderstanding on our part. Why, then, do we find in God’s written Word no direct command or even a hint that we should commemorate his Son’s earthly birthday? Because Jehovah places emphasis on Jesus’ death and resurrection, requiring Christians to celebrate annually the Memorial of his death only. (Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8; 11:23-26) Thus, Christmas carols that presumptuously call for the celebration of Christ’s birth “go beyond the things that are written” in the Bible. (1 Corinthians 4:6) So do you think that people who know this and yet sing these lines are pleasing Jehovah God? No matter how sincere a person may be, presumptuousness and disobedience never win God’s favor.—1 Samuel 15:22, 23.

Customs and Beliefs

Jehovah God explicitly warns against mixing pagan practices and beliefs with his pure worship. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) Pagan practices? Yes, as we shall now show, many pagan practices are tied in with Christmas. Such practices are repulsive to God, like the practices of the Canaanites of whom Moses said: “Everything detestable to Jehovah that he does hate they have done.” (Deuteronomy 12:31) Since ‘Jehovah does not change,’ how do you think he would view Christmas carols that, in the name of Christianity, encourage a mixture of pagan practices and pure worship?—Malachi 3:6; Deuteronomy 12:1-3, 29-32.

For example, the musical call to “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly” is rooted in ancient pagan superstition. In the booklet Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore, Margaret Baker pointed out that decorating homes with evergreens was a Roman and a Norse custom. She further observed:

“Greenery brought into the house at the winter solstice seemed to be a charm to ensure the return of vegetation to the earth. . . . Holly had many associations with good fortune. In Louisiana berries were kept for luck. . . . A piece kept back from church decorations was especially lucky. . . . And a tree planted outside the house protected it from thunder, lightning, fire and the evil eye.”—Pages 29, 32.

If you study the lines of other Christmas carols, you will find that they endorse various superstitious customs. Jehovah God cannot approve of these practices, for they enslave people to fear and ignorance, which keeps them from turning to him. Music that teaches or promotes superstitions is simply not fitting for Christians seeking his favor.

Christmas music that deals with Santa Claus touches a very sensitive area—little children! Emotions may be stirred up, but the question must be asked, What do these tunes teach little ones? Misconceptions such as that a white-bearded mythological figure in a red suit is practically omniscient. He knows when all children are good or bad. And he brings toys to only good boys and girls, so they are encouraged to behave to get these materialistic gifts.

Here we must let our reason rule and not our deceptive hearts. (Jeremiah 17:9) Santa Claus is just another product of pagan tradition, and sparkling melodies with lyrics telling children that he is real do not change that fact. Furthermore, such music ascribes to Santa the all-knowing quality that only Jehovah God possesses. Should God-fearing parents teach their children to believe and sing such things? Should they pretend to their children that the pagan Santa Claus is linked to the Christianity of the Bible?

Wise parents do not bribe their children to be good. Yet Christmas music leads children to believe that if they behave an imaginary Santa Claus will leave them toys. The bribery is there—subtle, but unmistakable. You can appreciate that such ideas can damage the moral fiber of children in their formative years. Jehovah declares that “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline [not bribery with Christmas toys] is what will remove it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) The conclusion should be clear—Christmas songs about Santa Claus are a gross deception. They can only undermine respect for true Bible principles.

Idealistic, starry-eyed little children need to feed on the “bread” of God’s truth. Their inquisitive minds cannot be satisfied with ‘stones’ of falsehood.—Matthew 7:9.

-12/15/83 Watchtower, "What Does Christmas Music Really Teach?"; WBTS

More Articles Concerning the Inaccuracies and Pagan Connections to Christmas Carols:

Bishop says Christmas carols are nonsense (Digital Journal)

Christmas - It's Origins And Associations (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Christmas Music (Search Results From the Watchtower Online Library)