R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to Him a new song. Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises. Sing to Him a new song; pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to Him a new song. But the plan of the LORD stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations. Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to Him a new song. Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield, For in Him our hearts rejoice; in His holy name we trust. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to Him a new song.
Sing to the Lord Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite church services all year. We like to attend the late evening service, usually at 10 or 11 p.m. Part of the reason I love it is because we sing all the traditional Christmas hymns. One of those hymns holds special meaning for me, and I rarely get through it without shedding a few tears.
A few years ago, when I arrived at my parents’ home for Christmas, my dad told me I’d better go see Grandpa right away. Grandpa was my “fun” grandpa, terribly mischievous and always ribbing me about one thing or another. I worked as a hired hand for him all through junior high and high school, mowing the lawn, chopping thistles, and whatever else he found for me to do. But his health had been waning since my Grandma had died the year before. “He doesn’t look good,” my dad warned me. “I’m not sure he has much longer.”
When I walked into Grandpa’s room, I was shocked. The tall, healthy-looking man who used to tramp around the farm in his overalls looked almost nothing like the Grandpa I knew. He seemed to have shrunk, he’d lost a bunch of weight, and he was deathly pale. But the twinkle returned to his eyes when he saw me. After we visited for a while, he seemed to be getting tired, so I prepared to leave. He gripped my hand and asked me to stay a little longer. “Can you sing some Christmas songs?” he asked.
I began to sing all the Christmas hymns I knew, from “Away in the Manger” to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to “Joy to the World”. The last one was “Silent Night”. As I began to sing, he joined – in the German tongue of his parents’ homeland. His voice was feeble and the words were slurred, but the joy came through loud and clear in his singing. He managed to struggle through three verses of “Stille Nacht”.
That was the last time I saw Grandpa alive. But to this day, when I sing “Silent Night”, I hear him. I’m reminded that it doesn’t matter how we sound when we’re giving thanks to God. It doesn’t matter if we praise Him with a lyre, a chant, or a song. It doesn’t even matter what language we are speaking. What matters is the joy in our hearts.
Prayer: Dear God, We exult in Your name. We praise You for loving us, walking with us, and giving us the greatest gift. Help us to remember that no matter how our praises sound, they are beautiful music to Your ears. In Jesus’ name, Amen.