Shalom, folks. I received an email from Chavah listener Marie G. this week. She heard a song that started off in Hebrew…then ended in a Christmas song!
The song she heard was Marty Goetz - Maoz Tzur / Hark the Herald Angels Sing. It’s a traditional Hanukkah song, Maoz Tzur, blended with the old hymnal, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, the familiar old Christmas hymn.
In her letter, which was respectful and reasoned, Marie told me,
“…it is difficult to be apart from the world during Christmas time…please don’t play Christmas music on Chavah.”
She’s not the first person to tell me this. Every year, it seems, I get letters from folks saying that.
The truth is, I’m not playing Christmas music on Chavah. Rather, there are some songs on Chavah that contain music we associate with Christmas, but by themselves contain nothing objectionable.
For example, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is associated with Christmas, but in itself is a Biblical plea for Messiah’s return. It’s opening lines petition God for the salvation of the Jewish people: “O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.”
So while some folks might not like this song because it has become associated with Christmas, nobody is going to object to its contents.
(As an aside, I generally feel the same about Christmas itself. There are redemptive elements – people giving to charity, people giving gifts to one another, remembering the birth of the Messiah regardless of his actual birth date. But there is also the matter of assimilation, whether Jewish assimilation into the gentile world, or Christian assimilation into norse myths, commercialism and even secularization of Christmas. Magical reindeer, decorated trees, and an omniscient man in a flying sleigh have nothing to do with God. It makes me, as a disciple of Yeshua, uncomfortable.)
What about the song Marie G. heard, is there anything redeemable there? Does she have a point? Should I stop playing such music on Chavah?
The song comes from Marty Goetz, a Jewish believer who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. In it, Goetz melds Maoz Tzur (a traditional Hanukkah song) and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (the traditional Christmas song) together into a single song, and this is what sparked her desire to write me.
There are indeed Christmas songs without biblical content – and these would never be played on Chavah. However, this Maoz Tzur/Hark! The Herald Angels Sing medley I have decided to leave on the station. Here are my reasons:
- As heard on the station, Marty Goetz's version blends Maoz Tzur, a traditional Hanukkah song, with Hark the Herald Angels Sing. It’s not strictly a Christmas song.
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is free of any pagan or unbiblical imagery. It is a song retelling what we read in the gospels: angels joyously announcing the birth of the Messiah. There is nothing theologically objectionable about the song.
- The song was written by Godly men: penned by Charles Wesley, a pioneering reformer of our faith and author of 6000 hymns, many still sung today. The musical piece was written by a Jewish man, Felix Mendelssohn and adapted by one of his chorists.
These things have led me to keep Marty Goetz's Maoz Tzur / Hark the Herald Angels Sing medley on the station.
And this is why I can’t, in good conscience, remove songs merely because of their association with Christmas. I understand some folks disagree. For such people, Chavah grants you the thumb-down button. Thumbing down music on Chavah will cause Chavah to no longer play that music for you.
Hope this helps! An early shabbat shalom.