Christmas Carols

I thought I’d just throw in a fun one this week, since it’s the season of fun!!

First of all though, yet me clarify my point of confusion as I introduced Sunday’s sermon.  We sang Joy to the World just before I spoke, and I commented that the lyrics were written by Issac Watts (1674-1748 ) and the tune based on music by Handel (the same guy that composed the Messiah).   I got muddled trying to place who Isaac Watts was and when this song would have been written.

However, despite my confusion on the details I still think my point is significant.  Although Jesus was probably not born on Dec. 25th, and although the Bible doesn’t teach us to celebrate Christmas, and although many of the Christmas traditions actually have pagan origins… Today Christmas has well and truly accumulated a lot of Christian meaning, while it’s fuzzy origins are mostly forgotten.  When we sing songs written 300 or so years ago we join with a long line of Christians who have sung those words to worship God, and truly the miracle of God becoming human is an event of great joy worth singing about.

What are your favorite Christian Christmas Carols? Mine are:

  • O Holy Night
  • Mary Did you Know
  • God With Us (by MercyMe, not really a Christmas Carol, but definitely a song with a Christmas message)
  • Grown Up Christmas List (Amy Grant’s version has an extra verse)
  • Jazz Gloria (this is a choral piece that I’ve picked up somewhere and got stuck in my head.  The best version I could find of it online was here.)
  • Messiah – the whole thing!! (I still get a buzz from reading Scripture and recognizing passages used in this work.)

Okay, that’s my rather unconvetional list.  Please share yours!!  Also Are there and Christmas songs you just can’t stand? This time last year I was working and Starbucks and must have heard “Frosty the Snowman” 5 times every day!!  Enough with Frosty!!



  1. rob

    I do not have any favorite “Christian X-mas carols” as Christ’s mass is not authorized any where in the New Testament. When we celebrate this PEGAN holy day as Christ’s birth we are breaking God’s commands.

    We need to look at what happened to Arron’s sons when they introduced an unauthorized fire.

    We need to be mindful that this day was started around 330AD buy the Catholic Church and not by Our Lord and Savior or the Apostles and it was not observed by the Churches in the New Testament.

    As member of the Lord’s Church we have no right to add to the Bible and say that it is OK to celebrate this unholy day as a holy day. God never authorized this act anywhere in the New Testament.

    When we look at the whole Day it still reeks of Peganism, from the Christmas tree which Pegans had been using long before Christmas to the yule logs and so on and so forth. Additionally the pegans still celebrate the sun day on Dec 25th (which was the original day).

    As members of the Lord’s church we need to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to remember Jesus birth as a holy day. We are commanded to remember his death, burial and resurrection. If God wanted us to celebrate this day he would have given the day and how it was to be celebrated. Neither were given, the Bible is silent on this.

    It is a shame that the church has gotten away from being the Church and have introduced all these pegan ideals into the worship service. We need to remember that Paul condemned the Galatians for going back to their pegan ideals.
    Galatians 1: 6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

    • ozziepete

      Paul’s issue in this Galatians passage was that people were turning to a different gospel. In 1 Cor. 15:1-5 Paul summarizes the Gospel as “Christ died for our sins…he was buried, and he was raised on the third day.” I am certainly not preaching a gospel other than this. Salvation is only found in Jesus.

      Although many of the Christmas traditions undoubtedly have pagan origins, those origins do not determine what I am thinking when I worship God. We are often told that worship is about the heart and not externals. The couple of times I’ve had opportunity to visit Hong Kong I’ve visited Buddhist temples, and I believe that there surrounded by thousands of shrines to Buddha and ancestor worship I can still worship the true God if I choose. (I went to these temples as a tourist, not a worshipper.)

      In fact, the Bible often takes pagan customs and gives them a Christian significance.
      • Olympic competitions or Greek games were part of pagan religious festivals to honor Zeus or other gods. According to a National Geographic article I found online the Olympic festivals involved sacrifices, rituals, and prostitution. “This was the total pagan entertainment package.” Yet Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 seems to refer to these competitions by mentioning two Olympic events “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” and instead of the crown of leaves given Olympic champions “there is in store for me a crown of righteousness.” To see that I’m not just making up these olympic references in the Bible you can see this article on a church of Christ website.

      • In 2 Cor 2:14-16 Paul seems to compare following Christ with a Roman triumph procession. In this Roman celebration to the gods, the victorious general would lead prisoners into his home city (Rome) where they would be then be killed. Spices were sprinkled in front of the parading general. Paul takes this image of pagan triumph and worship and says that God “has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession.” His reference to the sweet perfume and fragrance also seems to reference the sweet spices of the Roman celebration.

      We need to be careful in making the assumption that because something once had a pagan origin it cannot be given a Christian meaning. I would never suggest that Christians start worshiping trees or the sun, but because something once had that meaning does not mean it continues to have the same meaning.

      The miracle of the Incarnation, God becoming human, is found in three of the Gospels (the same number as describe the Last Supper). It is a crucial part of our Christian faith and deserves to be celebrated. Each of the people described in Luke sang, prayed, and celebrated his conception and birth (Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, angels, shepherds, Simeon, Anna and the wise men in Matthew) setting us a strong example that we should too.

      That we choose to do so around the 25th of December is a choice, not a command. We could read Luke 1-2 and sing of the birth of Christ any Sunday of the year and be Biblical, although most people in our society would think us strange. What would be sinful, would be to never discuss or celebrate the birth of God since this is such an important part of the Gospel. For Jesus to die, he had to be born.

      Over the years many churches of Christ have acknowledged cultural holidays (holy days) with special prayers, sermons, or services. I’m thinking of days like Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Memorial Day. These days are never commanded in Scripture, and some might argue that those that celebrate or commemorate battles are un-Christian even.

      For another interesting perspective that I appreciate (although don’t entirely agree with), see this article:

  2. Mark

    Ozziepete I agree.

    In response to Rob’s comments:

    It seems that we do things in our homes that have Pagan origins. I for one have a tree, but I do not bow down to it and pray for things.

    I celebrate birthdays in my home with presents and birthday cakes but i do not bow down and worship the greek moon goddess.

    I have a wedding ring that is symbol of my love for my wife, yet i do not bow down to a Pagan god.

    I thank the one and only God for everyting that he has bestowed upon me. It is to him I truly belong.

    Since the bible has told us of Christ’s birth, we should at least acknowledge it, why else would have God allowed it to be mentioned in the New Testament. Jesus needed to be born to die for us on the cross. Yes, it is through his death that we obtained the possibility of eternal life, but without Jesus’ birth where would we be?

  3. Bonnie

    Although we have not celebrated Christmas as the exact day of Christ’s birth, we have celebrated Christmas right along with every other Christian. This is the time of year to remember that Jesus was born so that we could have eternal life. He was sent to die for remission of our sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”John 3:16

    Not only does Christmas have ties to paganism, so does the celebration of one’s Birthday. Do you not celebrate you’re the birth of your children?

    [ Modern birthday parties and celebrations by children take their form mainly from Germany, where the birthday child received gifts, chose a menu and received a candle-ringed butter or jam cake. The lighted candles for the cake may have originated from the birthday of the Greek moon goddess Artemis. Pagan worshippers honored her every month with moon-shaped honey cakes. Because the moon glows with light, the cakes were decorated with lighted candles.
    Saying “happy birthday” to friends and loved ones was society’s superstitious way of protecting them from evil spirits. Birthday thumps, bumps, pinches, etc., were said to bring luck and send away evil spirits. Party snappers, horns and other noisemakers were also intended to scare off bad-luck spirits.
    It should now be clear that birthdays are not only unbiblical, they are pagan!]

    Do you pick and choose which parts of paganism are streamlined into our everyday life that you follow and which ones you choose not to?

  4. rob

    In response to the Peter and Mark’s responses: No where in the New Testament is there a command for Christmas.

    If you go back and look at the history of this pagan day, you will notice that the Churches of Christ in the New Testament did not celebrate the day and there is no way that X-mas (12/25) is the day that Our Lord and Savior was born.

    In Luke 1:26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
    If you count 6 months in either the Jewish or our calander you will not get to December.

    Luke 2:8 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Now it would be too cold in Israel for the shepherds to be in the fields in Dec. Therefore the date can not be correct.

    So why then did the Catholics (not Christians) set the date? Because they needed to keep the pagans happy when Coninstine became Catholic and wanted everyone to be Catholic.
    Why Dec. 25?
    One theory for the origin of Christmas is that it was intended to compete with or supplant the pagan celebration of the sun-god on that date. According to this hypothesis, accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Jesus was given near the date of the winter solstice. On this day, as the sun began its return to the northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the birthday of the invincible sun. The cult was particularly strong at Rome when Christmas celebration arose.

    The idea is that the church tried to counteract this pagan worship with its own celebration of Jesus’ birth. That makes good sense, since the church was, in effect, providing its members with a Christian worship and fellowship opportunity while the pagans were cavorting and doing homage to their gods. It was also an opportunity for the church to preach the true gospel. If this reasoning is correct, what Christians did, then, was to redeem in Christ an understanding that he (not a pagan sun god) was the true Son and Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)—the true light that lights our path with his grace (John 8:12).

    Another idea as to why Christmas celebration began and expanded throughout the church has to do with its need to combat a then rampant heresy about Christ’s Person. The council of Nicea in 325 had condemned Arianism, which claimed that Jesus Christ was only an exalted creature and not true God of true God.

    The only Reason that in Mathew and Luke that the story of Christ birth is there is to show that the Prophesies of Christ’s birth came true.
    In Matthew the genealogy of Jesus was written to the Jews and Luke was written the Gentiles.

    While it maybe okay to have a tree up in your home (I am not really sure it is/ but that is a decision each person needs to make), it certainly is NOT okay to have one in the Lord’s house.

    At the Great Commission for the Disciples, Christommanded:
    Matthew 28:16-20 (King James Version)

    16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

    17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

    18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

    19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    I do not see anything about Xmas in any of the commands given by Jesus. Therefore we have no right as people to add to what God has commanded.

    Paul wrote in Galatians 4:8-11 (King James Version)
    8Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
    9But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
    10Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
    11I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

    Paul is condemning the Galatians for going back to there pagan ways.

    Additionally: Jeremiah 10:1-4 1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

    2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

    3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
    Now I am not saying that this is talking about a X-mas tree, but God was very specific not to cut a tree down and decorate it.

    God has always told us how to celebrate his Holy Days, ie: in the Old Testament: Day of Atonement, Day of Pentecost, The Sabbath, even how to make all offerings to Him; and in the New Testament: The Lord’s Supper. But I have never read in any version of the Bible that we are commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth.

    If there is a command please give it to me.

    We need to keep in mind that we have example after example of how Israel failed to keep God’s commands.

    In Leviticus 10 Nadab and Abihu tried to offer an unauthorized fire before the Lord and they were consumed by that Fire.

    2 Chron. 33:15-17 — The Israelites had kept the old pagan form (the high places of Baal), but had merely introduced the worship of God into that form — a refusal to let go of pagan worship forms (i.e., God was to be worshiped in the Temple, not on the high places). This was unacceptable worship because the right object of worship was mixed with wrong forms of worship; i.e., the mixing of godly worship with ungodly form. Likewise, is not the celebration of Christmas the taking of a celebration established by pagans and for pagans, and then introducing the worship of Christ into that pagan form?

    Deut. 12:29-32 — God warned His people Israel to destroy all vestiges of pagan worship that they found in the “Promised Land.” Not only did God want to prevent His people from being enticed to worship false gods, but He also specifically revealed that He did not want His people to worship Him in the same manner in which the heathen worshiped their gods. We know, therefore, that our Lord is displeased by practices which profess to honor Him, but which are copied from the tradition of false religions. The command here was to worship God only in His way, i.e., do only what God commands — not adding to God’s commands nor taking away from them.
    1 Sam. 15:1-3, 7-9, 21-23 — Saul disobeyed God’s prophet in order to worship God in his way. Is not the celebration of Christmas one of man’s ways of worshiping Christ? There is certainly no Biblical command to offer worship in this manner. 2 Sam. 6:2-7 — David attempts to transport the ark on a “new cart” instead of using the rings and poles as the Law required (Exo. 25:12-15). Additionally, the “transporters” of the ark were not even authorized to carry it (1 Chron. 15:2, 13-15); i.e., the ark was not only transported in the wrong way, but was transported by the wrong people.
    1 Ki. 12:26-33 — In order to unify the northern ten tribes of Israel, ungodly King Jeroboam set up pagan idols, not in place of God, but as new focal points for directing worship to God. He even instituted a new festival on a new day; i.e., a new religious holiday of his own choosing. Even though the true God of Israel was still to be the object of worship in the new religious holiday, both the holiday and the worship were not authorized by God nor accepted by Him (1 Ki. 13:1-3; 15:29,30). Why? Because the concocted mixture of error with truth constituted false religion! Likewise, is not the celebration of Christmas a religious holiday of man’s own choosing, replete with pagan symbols and forms, all under the guise (by sincere Christians at least) of worshiping the one true God and Savior?

    2 Tim 4:7, has nothing to do with paganism or the Olympics, I would recommend going back and looking at the actual scriptures.

    6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

    Paul was speaking of his death calmly/ bitterness of what he was already tasting looks on beyond death and the crown that awaited him. taken pg 243 of David Lipscomb’s commentary. He is not talking about Olympics or anything else.

    2 Cor 2:14-16 Paul is talking about how the Gospel of Christ is spreading all over and how they are converting pagans to Christ, and the Church is not letting the gate of hells prevail against it. Again God did not ordain any type of paganism.

    “God becoming human, is found in three of the Gospels (the same number as describe the Last Supper).”
    Only two Gospels record the Birth of Christ, that is Matthew and Luke, John and Mark have no record of Christ’s birth (at least the NIV and King James). Please let me know what the 3rd Gospel is. John does not talk of his birth, only that he has always has been and always will be. (The word became flesh). It is talking about how Christ was in God w/ the Father in the beginning. and he came to Earth in Human form, no mention of the Birth of Christ.

    I do believe that Christ’s birth should be remembered but there is not a command to do so, therefore we can not make a Holy day and expect God to accept it.

    We are responsible to teach the Gospel and part of that is Christ’s birth and we are commanded to worship in “Spirit and Truth” there is no truth in December 25th as it is just another way for Satan to drive a wedge between us and our Lord.

    “I would never suggest that Christians start worshiping trees or the sun, but because something once had that meaning does not mean it continues to have the same meaning.” Who is to say that it does not mean the same thing to God? I believe it does as God has a long memory. And once pagan to Him always pagan to Him.

    • ozziepete

      Rob, let met begin by saying that I respect your passion and views and have read every word you’ve written. However, I don’t agree with them. I feel that you’ve had sufficient opportunity to explain your position, so as moderator of this blog I’m going to respond to your latest post and then close the discussion. If new contributors would like to offer an opinion please go ahead, but for those who’ve already commented this blog discussion is closed. If any one wants to continue this discussion with me please use my email.

      1. It seems I need to clarify my view of Dec. 25th. I do not regard it as more holy than any other day. I do not believe Jesus was born on this date. I made this second point very clear in my sermon on the 21st. Unlike many denominations, the Lawson Rd Church of Christ does not have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service. We do talk about the birth of Christ around this date because most people come to church expecting and receptive to that message. It makes sense to discuss such a hugely important message as the incarnation of Jesus at a time people are wanting to hear about it. We also decorate our building as is seasonally appropriate, not for any religious reason.

      2. I do not agree that, “The only reason that in Mathew and Luke that the story of Christ birth is there is to show that the Prophesies of Christ’s birth came true.” That is one purpose, but there is much more information provided than is necessary to make that point. As my earlier post said, these passages are full of celebration of the arrival of the Messiah, of God becoming human. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh…” makes no sense without the birth accounts of Matthew and Luke. We too should celebrate the fact that God became one of us in order to die for and forgive us.

      3. The reason I say 3 Gospels discuss God becoming human is because John 1 does talk about this and this is what I remember and celebrate at this time of year. I’m not celebrating a random baby in a manger. I’m not celebrating the birth of a prophet (we don’t commemorate John the Baptist’s miraculous birth). I’m celebrating that God loved me enough to leave heaven and his divinity behind and become human. My sermons on the 21st and 28th have both emphasised this point. If you were to ask people who were present I believe they would confirm this. The deity of Jesus is a vital point of the Christian faith and is best discussed in the context of the birth of Jesus. Gal. 4:4 demonstrates that Paul saw the incarnation of Jesus as part of the Gospel.

      4. I do not agree that Gal 4:8-11 describes what Lawson Rd does around Christmas. As I mentioned earlier we are not making this a particularly holy day. We are certainly not worshiping a pagan god. I do not believe that Christmas in the 21st century has any more pagan meaning than do the pagan names for our months and days of the year. Just because the 7th day of the week is named Saturday does not mean that I worship Saturn on that day. Or that I worship Aphrodite in April. Christmas like these other names has been adopted by our culture and stripped of its pagan origins. I have no interest in replacing pagan values to these days. I would prefer that the church and broader society had never adopted these pagan practices and names, but I do not believe they are any longer pagan.

      5. You frequently ask for specific commands for celebrating Christmas, yet commands are not the only reason we do things in the church. We are not commanded to meet on the first day of the week, or to have the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week. It’s true that in 1 Cor 16:1-2 Paul tells each person to set aside money on the first day of the week, and again the logical conclusion is that that’s because it’s when the church met, but it’s not a command to meet. (“Laying aside money” is not exactly the same thing as put it in the church collection plate.) For these practices we rely on the example found in the New Testament.

      Also, The Bible never commands us how we should study the Bible. Should the church preach through the Bible in a year? Should we preach through the NT in a year? Should we study 1 & 2 Corinthians consecutively? Can we have a sermon series just on Jesus parables or can we only study books in their entirety? Can we make a habit of studying particular books or passages at particular times of year? Eg. Is it wrong to read 1 Cor. 13 around Valentines Day each year? Is it wrong to discuss Acts 2 each time Pentecost rolls around on the calendar? Would it be wrong to decide to study a book of the Old Testament every summer? The Bible can’t tell us how to study the Bible since the NT wasn’t collated until well after the apostles were dead!

      6. I find it interesting that your examples of unauthorized worship all come from the OT where God had given very specific instructions for how to worship. The instructions in the NT are much more general. It’s difficult to prove that there was even a sermon every week. In Acts 20:7 Paul spoke to the church in Troas, but he was a visiting apostle so we can’t know for certain that every week someone preached a sermon. It seems a logical conclusion that this was the common practice, but there’s a difference between a logical conclusion and a command. We know from 1 Tim 5:17 speaks of elders that preach, but that still doesn’t prove they did it every Sunday.

      In any event, our worship at this time of year does not contain anything unauthorized. We sing praise to God, we pray to God, we preach from the Bible, and we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We do not have point in the service where we all bow down to a tree, or pray to Zeus or Santa. In fact, if we conducted exactly the same service on the 25th of May no one would blink an eye or complain except to say that it seemed strange not to be doing it in December.

      7. Despite Lipscomb’s commentary (written before the modern olympics raised everyone’s awareness of the ancient olympics) I stand by my previous comments on 2 Tim 4:7 & 2 Cor. 2:14-16. Let me clarify that Paul is not commenting on the virtue or vulgarity of the olympics or triumph celebration, but he takes examples from those pagan practices and uses them to make the Christian points that you identify. In a similar way we take points from ancient pagan practices and contemporary cultural customs and use them to make Christian points.

      8. Finally, in 1 Cor. 8 Paul directly address a very similar discussion: “Should Christians eat food that has been offered to idols?” This is a complex passage and I don’t have enough space here to discuss it all, but a couple of points are relevant. Paul’s basic position is that (v4) “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and “There is no God but one.” even if there are so-called gods. in v8 he says, “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” I have no problem applying this thinking to Christmas, Christmas trees, and pagan gods. An idol (or tree) is nothing, the gods are only so-called gods. There is no power or anything real in any of that stuff. In v7 he says “But not everyone possesses this knowledge”. Apparently some young Christians still believed that pagan gods were real, and these are the people he later describes as weak.

      The passage then continues to talk about how eating idol meat might cause some weak Christians to stumble. In v10 the problem is NOT that a Christian is eating in the idol’s temple (notice that that’s okay because he knows they’re not real gods and he’s not worshiping them), but that a weak Christian might be tempted to go back to eating in the temple and then worshiping idols. So like Paul in v13 if talking about Christmas and having a tree causes my weaker brothers and sisters to begin worshiping pagan gods I will give them up in an instant. But since I don’t know anyone that believes these pagan gods exist, I don’t know anyone that’s going to be tempted to worship them.

      I have already written much more than I ever wanted to on this topic, but I hope that I have explained the main points of my understanding of Christmas and its relation to the church. There will always be nuances and details that raise particular questions, but I hope that this covers the main points.

  5. Mark

    In reposne Rob,

    How has “Satan to drive a wedge between us and our Lord. ” when t we take time to recongize Jesus’s birth. How can that statment make sense, since we are acknowledging the existance of the Lord. The world is acknowledging it, wow Satan great plan, let the world ackownledge Christ the savior was Born. this is counterproductive to his real purpose, to say there is no God.

    Hey, when we all get to heaven, let’s ask him when he was born. I hope to see you there! 🙂 I hope he says August 17th.

  6. Bryan


    As I’ve learned more about Christmas I’ve developed a greater appreciation of its historical significance and influence in the Christian faith. I’ve always enjoyed the family time; but it truly edifies me to join with others in honoring and praising God for the birth of our King. Additionally I smell the sweet aroma of the victory of historical Christianity over the power of false pagan ideas — although the fight is not yet over. Finally, I do have my COMMANDS from OUR KING Lord to keep the day holy pursuant to His grant of freedom (Romans 14). Embrace your freedom: It is for freedom Christ has set you free! Do not allow yourself to be bound by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5).

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