Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
– Psalm 96:2
Throughout much of church history, Christians have marked out the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve as a time period known as “advent,” a term is derived from the Latin word which means “coming” or “arrival.” During these weeks the church would focus on the promises of the Old Testament and the birth narratives in the gospels in order to prepare their hearts and minds to celebrate the first “advent” of Christ. As we follow in this pattern, our study this year will focus in on the four songs found within the first who chapters of Luke’s gospel.
I was recently reminded of the significance of song in the life of a believer as I read Nik Ripken’s book, The Insanity of God. In one of the chapters Ripkin tells the story of a man named Dimitri who was imprisoned in the Soviet Union for starting a house church. On a daily basis he faced torture and starvation and yet through all of this he maintained two key spiritual disciplines. First, each morning he would begin his day by singing a hymn which he referred to as his “heart song.” Second, whenever he managed to get a hold of any type of writing utensil or paper, he would write down as many bible verses that he could recall. According to Dimitri’s own testimony, his faith would not have survived those years without God’s Word frequently recalled in these ways.
God has designed us in such a way that music resonates deeply with us. When paired with His Word, music becomes a powerful medium through which we can both learn truth and be encouraged. As we turn to Luke’s gospel, we see four specific instances where either individuals or angels give praise and thanks to the Lord. Each of these songs recalls the promises of God and recognizes His power to fulfill them. As we enter into the Christmas season we want to be reminded of these great promises so that we can truly enter into the joy of those who sang these songs!
Part 1 – The Magnificat (‘My soul magnifies the Lord’) – Luke 1:46-55
Part 2 – The Benedictus (‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel’) – Luke 1:68-79
Part 3 – The Gloria in Excelsis Deo (‘Glory to God in the highest’) – Luke 2:14
Part 4 – The Nunc Dimittis (‘Now you dismiss’) – Luke 2:29-32
My prayer for us during this season is that we would be filled with anticipation and longing for Christ’s second coming as we consider the events and people surrounding his first coming.
Soli Deo Gloria.