Did you know what the very first Christmas carol was? Silent Night? O Tannenbaum? Deck the Halls? See if you can guess before reading the below…
Actually, the very first Christmas carol is none of these, and none of the ones you have probably heard. The very first Christmas carol, technically, was before Jesus was even born – Mary’s Song, found in Luke chapter 1.
I’ve always been fascinated by Mary’s reaction to the news that she would be the mother of Jesus. I guess because finding out one is unexpectedly pregnant is generally mind-boggling enough without the additional news that the child you are carrying is the savior of the earth.
We all know Mary’s famous reply. Her first response was logical (“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”), followed by, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be unto me as you have said.” The angels’ response to Jesus’ birth is also well-known: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
But Mary and Zechariah’s songs are oddly overlooked in the modern retellings and Christmas music today. It’s surprising that no one has ever made a modern Christmas song out of either.
For example, at the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah sang:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a hornof salvation for us
in the house of his servant David…
And you, my child…will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
By which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.
Turn on any Christmas CD nowadays, but you won’t find that.
As for Mary, as much as you might try, it’s hard to avoid the likes of Clay Aiken, CeeLo Green and Kenny Rogers, all crooning on any Christmas station:
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
And Mary said:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
His mercy extends to those who fear him. He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
Mary did you know?
No one knows for sure, but I think, in fact, she did.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior…The Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. Luke 1