3 Christmas Carols that Tell the True Christmas Story
“The First Noel”
“Noel” derives from the Latin verb “nasci,” to be born, and eventually trickled down into the French reference to the Christmas holiday. Defined, it literally means, “a Christmas carol” (Merriam Webster). The very world “Noel” is synonymous with Christmas.
It’s quite possible that the tune of this song has been played since the 1200s. Davies Gilbert added the lyrics in the 1800s, and it was published in 1823. The song retells the story from Luke 2 of the angels telling the shepherds in the field of the Savior being born, and the wise men following that same star to bring Him gifts.
Embracing Noel sends us traveling back to an ancient era, where our timeless Savior was born. The word used to describe the day of His birth became an anthem in celebration of the day of His birth. Though the angels sang in celebration of His birth first, we get to share in that joy of His coming by singing along today.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
Historically an Advent song, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” exudes the angst of a people waiting for their Savior. With references to the Rod of Jesse and the Key of David, it envelopes the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus Christ, which brings the New Testament into an even brighter light.
The first verse of the song speaks of the Son of God appearing. When we sing this classic Christmas carol, we are lauding the Lord over stanzas of Scripture that took over 800 years to be fulfilled. Isaiah spoke of the Messiah’s birth around 740-680 BC: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 ). Centuries later, Matthew recorded these words: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”; Matthew 1:23 ).
“Joy to the World”
Isaac Watts penned the lyrics to “Joy to the World,” but God Himself ordained the Scripture that is referenced throughout its stanzas. Psalm 98 , Psalm 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17-18 are all embraced in the beautiful truth of what Christmas is really about. Since 1719, we’ve had a melody to weave around the embrace of these promises. They are timeless and without boundary.
“And so, let the heavens resound in gladness! Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar. Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there. Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal” ( Psalm 96:11-12 ).
“Joy to the World” is a repetition of God’s promises; ones that we need to repeat to ourselves far beyond the Christmas season. The very definition of the word, “joy,” is “a source or cause of delight” (Merriam-Webster). “He reigns with truth and grace.” He is righteous, He has come, and sits at the right hand of the Father with authority.