It’s very easy to be glib about Christmas as a church musician. All the extra services, the fantastic hymns and carols, the fun of descants, carol singing and full congregations. Over the past few years I have got so swept away with the musical whirl that I haven’t given the true meaning a second thought.
It took two beautiful carol services in which I had a reduced musical role (one at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and one at St Mary le Tower Civic Church, Ipswich) to drive home the awe-inspiring message.
God, the omnipotent creator, coming to his Earth as a baby born into a manger. Angels appearing to tell the lowly shepherds the news before any others. Magi following a star for months to find a baby.
The greatest summation for me of this story which we all know, yet will never fully understand can be found in the poem by Henry Ramsden Bramley:
O wonder of wonders, which none can unfold:
the Ancient of days is an hour or two old;
the Maker of all things is made of the earth,
man is worshiped by angels and God comes to birth.
It is our job to portray as best we can the sheer mystery of the Christmas story. And it has done me good to step back from the story which I have known since I can remember, and think about its true implications.