Commentary: "Song of the Field"

Music lovers often think of Christmastime as a season of concerts. The community calendars of events in various media list numerous civic chorales, area churches' individual and ecumenical services, and school programs. Special radio and television programming feature songs unique to this season. Holiday music is everywhere, in likely and unlikely venues, with no earthly setting beyond its reach. That is how it should be, since the first Christmas concert was performed in a field (Luke 2:8-14).

There is something special about outdoor concerts, such as the annual Master's Touch presentation at the Boxing Hall of Fame, weekly bandstand programs at Sylvan Beach, daily events at the State Fair, and so on. This first Christmas concert was not in the most hospitable setting: a rocky field with scrubby hills, where sheep grazed and shepherds watched with few earthly comforts. Yet Scriptures speak of fields full of joy, trees rejoicing and clapping, mountains and hills singing (Psalm 96:12; Isaiah 55:12).

Part of the glory of Christmas music is that it is everywhere. Some criticize canned carols piped in to stores and malls. I concede that holiday tunes can become so common that we hardly hear their message after awhile. However, Christmas music brings light to even the darkest places. History records carols sung and sermons preached on Christmas Eves in the World War I battlefield of Flanders in 1914 and in the World War II concentration camp at Dachau in 1944.

The audience at that first Christmas concert was small and scraggly. There were no jewels to be seen but the stars in the sky, no furs but the animal skins worn by the listeners. Instead of refined reviewers, there were shepherds who were viewed with such suspicion that, in those days, they were not allowed to testify in legal matters as they were considered unreliable witnesses. Many modern artists, and some preachers, might see this group as beneath their talents.

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