We have an Advent tradition of reading a verse from Luke 2:1-20 throughout December. We’ve also picked a carol to go with each verse. This tradition serves a few purposes:
1. The lyrics of these carols magnify the moment of each Scripture reading.
2. The practice of singing, or at least actively listening, enriches our minds and hearts.
3. Kids in the home, who love traditions when started early, benefit from being able to do something actively. The songs of childhood also tend to stay long in memory.
(Many Christmas songs include inaccuracies about the nativity story. These songs were selected with accuracy in mind, but when they get a bit fuzzy, you have the Luke 2 Scripture reading to underscore the known facts.)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
The Peace Carol
This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
Once in Royal David’s City
to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Oh, Come, Little Children
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks at Night
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Joy to the World
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Good Christian Men, Rejoice
“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Away in a Manger
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Angels from the Realms of Glory
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
When the Angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
What Child Is This?
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
As Lately We Watched
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I Wonder as I Wander
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
While by My Sheep
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these carols, you can find them on this playlist.
(A few of you might remember this playlist from a couple years ago. It’s been updated to be less eclectic and work better as background listening.)