COLUMN: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Published 7:30 am Sunday, December 3, 2023

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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without singing the familiar carols that celebrate this special time of year.

It’s difficult for me to select a favorite from the many joyous songs of the Christmas season. Whether a centuries old classic like Silent Night or a song from recent years such as Mary, Did You Know? – they tell us the story of Christ’s birth from different perspectives.

Composed in 1962, Do You Hear What I Hear? was written by a husband-and-wife team as a hymn of peace during the Cuban missile crisis with the threat of nuclear war, according to an article I read. The couple’s daughter recalls the story behind the lyrics.

Her father had served in World War II, which gave him a firsthand perspective on the horrors of war. He wrote the words, “Pray for peace, people, everywhere.” Since Christmas is a time of peace, joy and goodwill to men, he penned words of promise, “The Child, the Child sleeping in the night. He will bring us goodness and light.”

The lyrics include questions. “Do you see what I see? “the night wind asks the little lamb. “Do you hear what I hear?” the little lamb asks the shepherd boy. “Do you know what I know?” the shepherd boy asks the mighty king.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us two perspectives on the Christmas story. Matthew wrote about the wise men traveling to Bethlehem and Luke describes the details of Christ’s birth and the visit by the shepherds.

While reading both of these accounts again recently, I noticed something about this holy event that had not occurred to me before. God sent unique messages from heaven to all kinds of people. And, though many of them listened, others didn’t hear what He was saying.

To some, like Mary and Joseph, God sent angels to deliver a personal message. “Fear not, Mary, you will bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31). “Joseph, fear not to take unto thee Mary as your wife…she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21).

God had spoken through prophets for hundreds of years that Christ would come. Bible scholars have noted that Christ fulfilled 300 prophecies concerning His birth, life, death, and resurrection.

When the wise men were looking for the young child, King Herod called together the chief priests and scribes and demanded to know where Christ would be born. They answered, “In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet.” So why didn’t they go? Maybe they didn’t quite believe. The shepherds did. They heard the angelic message and came with haste to find the babe lying in a manger.

How different the Christmas story would be if those who did hear God’s message had chosen not to listen to what God was speaking to them? Author and minister Max Lucado writes, “Were it not for the shepherds, there would be no reception. And were it not for a group of stargazers, there would have been no gifts.”

God is still speaking to us today just as He did centuries ago when Christ was born. He still speaks through His Word and His Holy Spirit. Do you hear Him speaking to you?

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”