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Why Jews Wrote Some of Our Most Beloved Christmas Songs


What is your favorite Christmas song?  Chances are, it was written by a Jew.


White Christmas, Let It Snow, I'll Be Home For Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Silver Bells, even Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—all had Jewish writers.  Why is this?


There are two reasons, according to music historian Michael Feinstein.  One is that White Christmas, written by Irving Berlin, topped the charts in 1942 and encouraged others to write songs about the holiday.  The other is that most popular Christmas songs are not about Christ.  They celebrate sleigh bells, Santa Claus, and the larger folk American culture. 


I have two thoughts in response.  First: it is possible—and even popular with many—to celebrate Christmas with no regard whatsoever for Jesus.  Eighty percent of non-Christians say they celebrate Christmas.  With all the glitz and glamour of the holidays, a Martian could be forgiven for wondering why we call it Christmas.  In a similar vein, only 42 percent of Americans think the meaning of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus.  We have clearly turned holy days into holidays.


Christians must beware of doing the same.  This Christmas week, take time for Christ.  Make an appointment to be alone with your Savior and Lord, to read his word and pray, to praise him and listen to his voice.  Join the shepherds and the angels in celebrating the wonder and mystery of his birth.  Give Jesus the Christmas gift he wants—your heart.


Second: God will use anyone who is willing to be used.  It's ironic that Jewish writers would help us celebrate Jesus' birth, but such unintended service is not unprecedented.  God used the Egyptian pharaoh to elevate Joseph to leadership and save Jacob's family.  He used Cyrus, the Persian ruler, to liberate Israel from Babylonian slavery.  He used Emperor Augustus to order the census that took Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem and fulfilled biblical prophecy regarding the birth of the Messiah (Micah 5:2).


George Bernard Shaw: "This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It's a sort of splendid torch which I've got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."


Will your torch burn brightly for Jesus this week?



Publication date: December 22, 2014


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