The Christmas hymns and carols being among the most lovely, sing-able, and familiar, are also among the most richly doctrinal. I know of no other time of the year where so many Evangelical and Protestant congregations (from all sections of the worship-style spectrum) are singing and meditating on such explicitly creedal confessions of the church and Scripture with such frequency and regularity.
I realize that there is a spectrum of opinion and conviction amongst the readership of Ref21. There are those in the Reformed orbit who are entirely opposed to singing hymns in corporate worship, to say nothing of any sort of acknowledgment of anything even vaguely approximating the liturgical calendar! Those convictions are certainly respected and respectable, but (fair warning) for adherents of such a position, the following article will probably serve only as an irritant.
However, for those within the Reformed communion who do not hold to the aforementioned convictions, I suspect many of you might be like me: I serve in a Reformed Christian tradition where large segments of our denomination do not observe a church calendar or liturgical year. A few congregations do, a few more have a quasi-Advent observance during the month of December. But really for the majority of congregations, it’s simply the weekly cycle of Lord’s Day Morning worship and Lord’s Day Evening worship each and every Sunday.
There are a whole host of reasons for this reality and the aim here is not to debate the merits or detractions of a liturgical calendar, but simply to point out that (in American Protestantism at least) regardless of how high-church or low-church an individual congregation may be, almost every congregation I know of gives some sort of head-nod to the two predominant “festival” days of the year: Easter and Christmas.
We can argue another day about whether this should be. There is a venerable tradition of its custom, particularly coming out of the Continental Reformed Tradition. But I digress.
No, the point of this article (assuming the reality of Christmas and the hymns that accompany it) is to give some attention to the theologically rich and particularly creedal congregational singing that comes ‘round at Christmastime.
In addition to the Christmas hymns and carols being among the most lovely, sing-able, and familiar, are also among the most richly doctrinal. I know of no other time of the year where so many Evangelical and Protestant congregations (from all sections of the worship-style spectrum) are singing and meditating on such explicitly creedal confessions of the church and Scripture with such frequency and regularity.
Perhaps it is lamentable that this is a phenomenon that does not happen more often. But the national worship scene being what it is, it is worth celebrating the fact that such singing is happening and that our Christian worship as is the more blessed and enriched because of it.
If you will indulge me a few examples and comparisons, I think you will see why such creedal hymnody encourages me and moves me to consider that the state of Christian worship in this nation may not yet be totally forgone and forsaken.
 Do with this information what you will. Much of it was born out of compromise and as a result of tensions between ecclesiastical leaders and various civil magistrates. As historians, we must acknowledge the historical reality and subsequent traditions that followed:
Synod of Dordt Church Order: “Article 67 – The Churches shall observe, in addition to Sunday, also Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, with the following day, and whereas in most of the cities and provinces of the Netherlands the day of Circumcision and of Ascension of Christ are also observed, Ministers in every place where this is not yet done shall take steps with the Government to have them conform to the others.”