Walking slowly from the church, we lifted our candles high into the darkness of the night. What a beautiful sight to behold. Those little lights were a symbol of the true message of Christmas as they glowed from our church lawn. God sent the Light of the world to us thousands of years ago. So we sang with gusto, "Go Tell It On The Mountain."
"Go tell it on the mountain.
Over the hills and everywhere.
Go tell it on the mountain.
That Jesus Christ is born."
A pretty little girl with red fluffy earmuffs and long blond hair walked in front of me. She eagerly ran over to the big manger scene and called to her mother, "I hope we can always keep the baby Jesus here ‘cause I love him."
We all smiled and nodded in agreement. That simple statement had captured a much greater truth than the child understood. We know what is supposed to happen when the manger scene is packed away. We are to keep the baby Jesus in our hearts forever and continue to tell the Good News of his birth and what happened after his birth.
Therefore the beloved Christmas carol, "Go Tell It On The Mountain" is much more than a Holy birth announcement. Once we proclaim that he was born, the third verse reveals the purpose of Jesus Christ's birth:
"Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born.
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn."
How awesome was the glory of that blessed Christmas morn! It unfolded into the earthly ministry of that tiny Baby. The powerful story of His birth continued into the powerful story of his life, crucifixion and resurrection. There is much to go and tell on the mountain and everywhere.
The first printing of this carol was in 1907. It had been originally sung by slaves on plantations and sometimes the words and tunes varied. John W. Work III explains those differences in his book, AMERICAN NEGRO SONGS AND SPIRITUALS (1940). The Fisk University professor of Nashville stressed that "many of them were passed down from generation to generation, and after much singing, the texts and melodies varied from place to place. But the same gospel message was always proclaimed."
The next generation of the musically gifted Work family, John W. Work IV, describes the very heart of the African-Americans who gave the world the eloquent spirituals. He says, "Through enduring trials and hardships and in spite of their enslavement, many of these Africans, who had been forced to come to America, knew the love of Christ. With God in their hearts, they composed and sang the inspirational and wondrous spirituals."
One of those ‘wondrous spirituals,' "Go Tell It On the Mountain" became a favorite when the Fisk University Jubilee Singers included it in their world-wide concerts in the 1800's. For those of us who sing this beloved Christmas carol, the gospel message is definitely proclaimed. We are actually singing the dynamic command from God's word: "Go and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19).
Loving God of all creation, we thank you for Your words to ‘go and tell' all the wonder of your purposes for Christmas. In most birthday celebrations, we focus on the one we celebrate for a short while. But with Jesus, we continue to focus on other events of his perfect life. We grow to love him more and more through his teaching, preaching and healing on earth for three years. With his crucifixion and the glory of his resurrection, we are caught up in the continued majesty of his life. The one who receives him as Lord and Savior is redeemed for eternity. We have much to go and tell on the mountain and everywhere.
In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen
Lucy Neeley Adams has always loved music. She began telling the story of hymns on Christian radio WWGM in Nashville, TN, in the '80s. She then wrote a newspaper column titled "Song Stories" for five years. During that time Lucy's book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions, was published by Abingdon Press in Nashville. Each of the 52 stories contained in the book is written in a devotional format, with the words of the hymn concluding each devotion. She may be reached for comment at [email protected]. Visit her at 52hymns.com
Originally published on: January 9, 2007