How Old Time Language Brings Out the Best of Christmas Season

Don’t you just love the language that comes out at this time of year? It’s different from the kind of language we can get away with at other times of the year. Just listen to the Christmas carols. Or watch what they say on the seasonal TV shows.

If you listen carefully you’ll hear language like:

  • “When half-spent was the night”
  • “God rest ye merry gentlemen”
  • “And idol forms shall perish,
    And error shall decay,
    And Christ shall wield His scepter,
    Our Lord and God for aye.”
  • “O Tannenbaum”
  • “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care”
  • “Pray, wither sailed those ships all three”
  • “We three kings of Orient are
    Bearing gifts we traverse afar
    Field and fountain, moor and mountain
    Following yonder star”

Do you notice all the “thees” and “thous” and “ye” and “shall”? I especially love phrases like “half-spent” was the night. When my wife and I got married we were sure that the invitation read that our marriage ceremony was going to be at “half after three” in the afternoon.

Since I’m a writer I guess I just appreciate old fashioned language like this. It seems so poetic. There’s a formality to it that we don’t use at other times of the year or in other places throughout the year. It’s almost melodic.

And speaking of melodies, the songs we hear and sing at Christmastime have a certain sense of both haunting and healing. Songs like “Christmas Waltz” and “In the Bleak Mid Winter” send feelings down into the deepest depths of my soul.

But here’s the thing. All that old time language and those melodies that we only hear once a year remind me of a connection. They remind me that the songs we sing, the language we use, and the message that we hear are connecting us to places and people of times past. They sang these songs long ago, folks. Through language and music we are connected to them.

More than that, this whole idea of language and music makes Christmas timeless for me. It reminds me that our Savior came into space and time in what we consider ancient days. But we speak about it and sing about it today. It’s a reminder that one day perhaps these days will be considered ancient days. Those who come after us will be connected through our language and music, as well.

And there will also come a day when Bethlehem’s Child will come again. He will bring time and space together so that people of every tribe, and race, and nation, and language will stand before His throne.

That is, in the end, why He came the first time. So that we can look forward to the second time without fear. But in the mean time we sing and we say things that connect us to those who have gone before us and those yet to come.

So I sing to you:

It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
“Merry Christmas
May your new year’s dreams come true”
And this song of mine
In three quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing, too

What do you love about the language of the season?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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