I fully agree with my pastor friend Doug Mace, who asserts that bingeing on Christmas carols can begin in early October. Most holiday music is luscious and creates an ambience of gently falling snow, although I do have a wonderfully thumping version of “Little Drummer Boy” performed by the incomparable rock group Chicago. And “Let It Snow” with a blazing horn section and Gloria Estefan.
But for sure, “Silent Night,” we think, should be nothing but lush strings and flickering candles. Maybe a flute solo. My creaking iPod has ten renditions, and sometimes I go for a long December walk and play them all in a row, usually getting back home in tears and ready for a hug from Lisa.
You won’t believe this, but there’s actually a full-bore rock-and-roll version of Franz Gruber’s signature carol, performed by Elvin Bishop. Wailing guitars, bass, percussion, back-up chicks, everything. It’s totally hot. Don’t believe me, check it out on Youtube. There’s something wonderfully incongruous about cranking up the car stereo to a ten when a song title begins with the word “Silent.”
I was doing my Sunday morning vacuuming last weekend, already bopping along in accord with the Doug Mace rule, when this edgy “Silent Night” came on. So help me, I found myself gyrating and hip-shaking (that’s Adventistspeak for “dancing”) as I hoovered the carpet. (See Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire” for tips on doing household chores while shaking that groove thing.)
What made this a precarious moment was that I was vacuuming the stairs, and teetering on the edge of catastrophe as I bellowed out the lyrics and encouraged my booty to keep time with Mr. Bishop’s drummer.
Now please join me in meditating about this. We think of “Silent Night” as a reverent moment of divine praise, and it most surely is that. “Christ the Savior is born” is an announcement that drives me to my knees in prayer and gratitude; it truly does. This is our precious gospel message.
But at the same time, it’s also the entire heavenly host, the full battalion, in full party mode and announcing our impending redemption with trumpets and the clash of cymbals. Jesus is coming! Okay, as a Babe in the manger, but it’s Him. He will win our release! This is the dawn of redeeming grace!
So I say this. “Turn up the amps! Play a blistering Fender guitar solo that takes the roof off our houses and even our staid sanctuaries. With the angels let us sing, ‘Alleluia to our King.’”
And dance, baby. Watch your footing on the landing and don’t get your feet tangled up in the vacuum cleaner cord, but dance away.