O Come, O Come Emmanuel

David Lyon from the song writing collective ‘Satellite’, gives us a few thoughts to ponder this Christmas.

The wonder of the Christmas story, of God Incarnate and the Infant Holy should never fail to leave us breathless from gratitude and expectation as we experience the revelation of love come down again and again. If the impact of these truths has been blunted by relentless consumerism and the burden of fickle extravagance, we perhaps need to rediscover the joy of what it means to encounter the Child in the manger.

For the third successive year, I will be joining with Yvonne Lyon, Steph Macleod and Allan McKinlay for a nationwide tour in December in partnership with Tearfund Scotland. We will be performing a collection of original Christmas songs and festive favourites repackaged in an engaging format that reminds us all of the importance of the season. As part of our collaboration, we have recorded two albums containing these songs, ‘Be The Light’ and ‘Heaven’s Brightest Star’ with all proceeds from sales being donated to the ongoing work of Tearfund.

The role of the artist is sometimes to paint with fresh, vibrant and seldom seen colours but there is also a beauty to be found on occasion in retelling the familiar in a new way. As melody and harmony fuse with sparse acoustic instrumentation, we have found a simplicity in the stillness that allows us moments for quiet contemplation and worship. Like those in ages past, we come to adore with the little that we have to offer. As we remember that it is truly better to give than to receive, we are challenged to lift our eyes beyond our own selfishness and consider those less fortunate than ourselves.

Tearfund, like many other organisation such as Christian Aid, CrossReach, Bethany Christian Trust – to name but a few – follow Jesus to the places where there are real human needs. They demonstrate long-term commitment to those crippled by abject poverty among the world’s most broken and victimised communities is holistic and strategic, evidenced by its very real practical, spiritual and emotional assistance in the rubble of heartache. Tearfund’s current campaign, ‘No Child Taken’ focuses on the horrors of child trafficking. It’s inconceivable to fully appreciate the enormity of this modern day slavery but the cold, hard facts are harrowing. Humanity at its most innocent is traded mercilessly with 1.2 million children trafficked each year, according to UNICEF.

As songwriters and followers of Christ, our responses to these stories of tragedy cannot be superficial or fully formed immediately. Their pain becomes our pain. We cry, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ with renewed urgency as His ransom seems forgotten or at best delayed by the darkness of brutal injustice. Traditional carols of sentimental Christmases past are transformed into something far more relevant and meaningful against the backdrop of this cruelty and the fire of our fallenness.

And yet there is hope, a fragile flicker in the darkest suffering but enough for us to dare to believe. Effective art should awaken our senses and provoke us to action. It may offer us the opportunity to glimpse momentarily through the eyes of another and distil what is a global epidemic to personal trauma. The presence of the Almighty remains in these shadows and His silence must not be confused with absence. The divine light for our bruised and fractured world burns with an eternal grace that will ultimately cascade fully and victoriously bringing peace to earth. 

Be The Light and Heaven’s Brightest Star are available to download from iTunes.  CDs are available from the Heavens Brightest Star website.

Different Voices will be taking a break for a few months, but watch this space for more new material in 2016.