For the last three years, I have had the privilege of being the grammar school music teacher at SRCS. Part of my job is preparing students for their Christmas and Spring music productions, and I will admit that the task seemed daunting at first. After accepting the position in 2017, I sat down with some of our administrators and they gave me their vision for a new kind of Christmas concert -- one that wouldn't really be a concert at all but instead would be more like a church service that would unapologetically and emphatically point people to Christ. I was very excited (and if I'm being honest, a little nervous) to be involved in starting what we all hoped would become a new school tradition.
When we started practicing songs in music class for the first time, I quickly discovered that many of our students had not yet been exposed to what I would consider some of the "classic" Christmas hymns -- songs like Joy to the World, Silent Night, and O Little Town of Bethlehem. As I talked to the kids about the songs and what they mean, I realized that I had never really thought much about the lyrics of these songs myself. I've been singing these songs my whole life, but I never fully grasped the meaning of most of them until I began teaching them to children.
He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all….
From depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory over the grave…
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today….
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing….
Born that man no more may die….
Let every heart prepare Him room….
Fit us for heaven to live with Thee there….
And our eyes at last shall see Him, through His own redeeming love….
As I've taught these songs to my students, I have fallen in love with them all over again. I don't want my students to learn the songs, "perform" them for one night, and then forget them. I want the lyrics of these songs and the Bible verses they recite to be written on their hearts. Earlier this week during their music class, the second graders, who started participating in this service when they were in kindergarten, sang all six verses of our opening carol 'Once in Royal David's City' from memory. I didn't have to sing with them or remind them of any of the lyrics because the words are now embedded in their minds. (If your second grader came home and told you that Mrs. Chambliss cried in music class this week, it's true. It was absolutely precious.)
I love that in just a few years this service has become a special tradition at our school. I love that the 5th graders get so excited about auditioning for the opening solo. I love hearing students walking into school singing their songs as I'm working car line in the mornings. I even love that for about four weeks a year I dream about Christmas songs and choir robes. But most of all, I love that our students are learning that the wonder of Christmas has nothing to do with a man in a red suit and everything to do with a Savior who loves us more than we could ever imagine.
Our Service of Lessons and Carols is not a performance but a time of corporate worship led by our K-5 students. I hope you will join us this year on Thursday, December 12, at 6:30 as our school family celebrates the birth of Christ. Listen to the beautiful, centuries-old hymns. Soak in the scriptures that tell us of our Savior's birth. Listen as some of our sweet first graders share what Christmas means to them. Spend just one evening away from the hustle and bustle of the season, and marvel at what Christ did for us.