From the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell.
The First Nowell, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay.
If you were asked to name your favourite Christmas carol, this isn’t likely to be the first one that comes to mind.
It’s more likely to be Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is you, or Wham’s Last Christmas, which are two of the most played Christmas songs and whatever you think about them, will probably have you humming along.
Singing is central to how we celebrate the good news of Christmas. Christmas music accompanies our shopping trips, it blares from the speakers at Christmas Markets and people will be gathering for carol services in churches big and small—some with candles, some with donkeys, some with mince pies and mulled wine.
This year, the Church of England are inviting people to join in with singing ‘The First Nowell’ to a new setting – singing groups, choirs and schools are invited to take part. This is a great way to tell the Christmas story, sharing the good news once again of the birth of Jesus.
It is also a reminder that Christmas is a time for being together. Our lives are linked to those around us, near and far. Particularly at this time when there is so much disruption, devastation and cruelty in the world, we need to remember to pause, to listen to the angels’ song of peace and joy.
This is the message that I am going to be talking about this Christmas. I am going to join in the song! And I am going to try to do little things that make this a reality for those around me. For we all need a little bit of kindness, a little bit of peace, and a little bit of joy.
So join in the song this Christmas! Find a church near you where you can add your voice to that of the song which echoes through the centuries.