Christmas songs #19: Good Christian men, rejoice!

Have you noticed how sexist all these old songs are? Here is one that just calls on the men to rejoice, but leaves the women out! Of course that’s absurd. In the English language, anytime before 20 or 30 years ago, “men” just meant everyone. We are all “men.” So here is a song that calls everyone to rejoice in the good news of Jesus’s coming.

This song does not leave us with just a vague impression of the coming of Jesus. It is not just “peace on earth” like a Christmas card. The song calls us to salvation. “Now ye need not fear the grave.” There is still a fear of the grave. Nothing has changed about “men” in the last 2000 years, not essentially. If anything, we fear the grave even more than our “superstitious” ancestors did. At least they had their gods (whichever ones) that would protect them. But now that we have gotten rid of all the gods, our society lives in abject fear that any person would ever die, so we spend money like there’s no tomorrow, trying to avoid it.

But there is a God, and there is a life after death. Otherwise nothing makes any sense.

God is complicated - so complicated that the entire Bible can’t describe him fully - but he partially solved that problem for us by becoming one of us, and revealing so carefully what God was like. John 1.18 says, “No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” (NET Bible translation)

There is a second problem, and it is worse than the first one. The second problem is that we have been in rebellion against God from the beginning. Jesus came to fix that too. He died on the cross intentionally, to secure the pardon from God the Father for those who would trust (believe) in him. This is the most amazing part of the story, and some of our Christmas songs have made it clear. The baby came to die. That was always the plan. Anybody who says God is unfair to judge us needs to realize that he came to bear his own penalty. He knows all about suffering. Now, literally anyone who wants a pardon can get it. But it’s a little more involved than just saying Jesus’s name reverently once or twice a year…

More tomorrow with the last song.

(To hear the song, click the link or paste into your browser. Finally, where it says “Don’t have a Rhapsody account?”, push “Play Now.”)

Lyrics (
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

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