By Del Duduit
(This is a repost from last year with a few changes.)
There is nothing more fulfilling than taking time on a cold winter’s night to sing Christmas carols to the elderly and shut-in.
Our church at Rubyville Community goes caroling every year at this time, and it brings such joy to everyone involved. When you see the expressions of surprise and joy on the faces of those who answer the doors, it blesses you. And sometimes, we are the ones with the surprised looks – like the time we accidentally set off one elderly couple’s security alarm. It’s hard enough to sing when it’s 10 degrees outside, but it’s harder to compete with a loud siren blaring and waking up the neighbors when you sing “Joy To The World.”
There have been other memorable moments over the years of caroling. Once we sang to a closed door when people were at home and ignored us. Another time, we sang to several deer in the yard looking at us like we were silly. We were once told to leave the porch because we interrupted a TV show, and another time, we were told by a man to leave after the first song. “That’s enough,” the old man barked. “We’re going to bed.”
We’ve driven up country roads in six inches of snow, and then there was the time we lost the headlights on our bus. We drove back to the church via the help of several flashlights shining through the windshield. Another time, we caroled to a man whose ceiling sagged just above his head. Shortly afterward, a man (from our church) with a big heart returned to fix it for him. My wife has also told me about when she was a little girl going caroling, and everyone rode in the back of a pickup truck filled with hay.
But last night was a success. Lives were touched – especially mine.
I loved the look on Faye’s face when she came to the door to hear the carolers sing her favorite Christmas songs. She is our former pastor’s widow and used to be a part of the annual caroling group. Her frail fingers opened a frosted glass door, and a smile broke out across a wrinkled face. Tears soon followed, and the hugs started. She was touched. Everyone was.
That is what makes the Christmas spirit so special. The entire evening is filled with fun and joy. Several children came this year, and their job was to ring the jingle bells while we sang the grand finale, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” at each stop.
I go because it makes me feel good. I enjoy being around the folks I go to church with during this time. Howard passed out cinnamon balls to keep everyone warm, and Ted and Mike drove the vans. We all had a great time of fellowship and singing. Our hearts were warmed and saddened at the same time, especially when we visit nursing homes. Some of the residents are so lonely, and their eyes light up when they hear us walk through the halls and sing Christmas carols. You feel like they have waited all day for us to come. Some, especially me, can’t sing that well, but we still love the mood.
“O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” Psalm 95: 1-2
Then we forget all about the cold when we return to the fellowship hall to thaw out with some hot chocolate, snacks and more fellowship and fun.
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There is nothing better than to make people feel special, even though they might be alone during much of the Christmas season. For those few minutes, they feel important because a small group of people from a Southern Ohio church took the time to sing Christmas carols to them.
So how did this grand idea of Christmas caroling come about? I think people have in mind who Christmas carolers are. They are typically people who attend a church and wear hats (like I did) and trudge from door to door in the cold to sing songs like “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” or “Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Here is a brief history lesson on Christmas carols.
In old days, Northern Europeans would gather together to sing and dance in honor of the Winter Solstice. The root word of “Carol” lies in a dance – in Old French, it means a kind of dance. Originally, carols were secular and did not center around religion. But over the centuries, they evolved to become part of the Christian hymns and traditions and are not related to dance anymore.
As a side note, I did witness our assistant pastor Brian dance while we sang Christmas carols – mainly because he was cold and danced to stay warm (that’s what he told me.)
My research revealed the origin of Christmas caroling is not clear. However, it is safe to say caroling brings pure joy and happiness to everyone involved.
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Carols commemorate the nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ.
And that’s all that matters. That is why we gather in such cold weather and sing to those who can’t get out as much anymore. That’s why we spread joy and sing Christmas carols to them. We want them to know there is no Christmas without Christ.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14
Perhaps the most popular Christmas carol is “Silent Night.” My Sunday School teacher, Tom, recently taught a wonderful lesson on “Silent Night.” He gave some history to the song and added some commentary. He wasn’t sure how that special night could have been silent. After all, the Inn was crowded with people – that could not have been a silent night. The Christ child was born in a manger surrounded by live animals – that could not have been a silent night. When a baby is born, it usually cries – that could not have been a silent night. Shepherds were afraid when the angels appeared – that could not have been a silent night. Heavenly hosts were singing and shouting – that could not have been a silent night.
“Silent night, Holy night.
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from the heaven above.
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born.
Christ the Savior is born.”
The night may not have been silent – but thank the Lord, it was a Holy night. Thank God that Christ the Savior is born. Christ the Savior is born.
Do we care why Christmas carols started in the first place? What matters is that we sing them every year to people who love them. What matters is the looks on the faces of the people who listen and are touched.
Christ the Savior is born.
If you have never done it before – sing some Christmas Carols to someone before Dec. 25. You might discover the best gift you can give is of your time and love. This can be your way to tell everyone Christ the Savior is born!
Tell me your thoughts this Christmas season. Have you gone Christmas caroling? How did it make you feel?