Merry Christmas! Each year, we experience the joy that Christmas brings. When you hear the words Merry Christmas they create a familiar refrain that we recite with merriment and glee. Christmas is the long awaited day of gladness and giving. During this sacred holiday season, we shop for the perfect gifts to give to our loved ones. On Christmas day we give an assortment of presents, but most importantly, we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We gladly give our gifts like the wise men and shepherds who worshiped Him (Matt. 2:11).
It is no wonder, that during this hallowed event the Bible reveals two of the most magnificent recitations of musical praise ever recorded. First, Mary’s Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” (Lk. 1:46-55), followed by the angel’s chorus “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:14, 20). Finally the Shepherds respond in praise (Lk. 2:20). God could have chosen anything (a bulletin announcement, a celestial e-blast or a sermon) to advertise Jesus’ appearance. Yet God chose songs and acts of praise to broadcast the blessed Saviors’ birth.
When the miracle of Jesus’ birth was revealed to men by angels, we glorified God for the gift of His presence with the gift of our praise. “Praise is one of humanity’s many responses to God’s revelation of Himself.”* God loves variety. For proof just look at our world. Like the assortment of presents that we give at Christmas time, our approach to praise can take on many forms.
According to The Holman Bible Dictionary, there are Seven-Forms of Praise:
- Offering a Sacrifice
- Physical Movement
- Silence and Meditation
- A Holy Life
Although listed last, music is certainly not least as a gift of praise! According to Biblical scholars, music is a primary form of praise. In my last e-newsletter we learned that the Psalms teache us that lyrics that extol God can be accompanied by music that elicits emotions that reflect God. Then we talked about the fruit of the Spirit as an example of godly emotions. “Mary’s hymn expresses praise to God for His treatment of her, but then extends her praise to how God has treated the righteous throughout the ages and how he will vindicate them fully in the future.
Understanding what God is doing, Mary possesses a mood of joy.” It is not surprising that Mary’s song meets our criterion. Do yours? Join me next week as I elaborate on each of the seven-forms or praise, so we can unwrap the Wonder of Worship.*Cheryl Wilson-Bridges, Levite Praise: God’s Biblical Design for Praise and Worship, (Lake Mary: FL: Creation House Publishing, 2009), 108.