Every Christmas season, we sing the same familiar songs that we have come to love. At Redemption City, we have been in full swing with Christmas hymns during our Sunday Gatherings. We sat down with our worship leader, Meredith Yackel, to discuss some of her favorite songs this time of year.
Redemption City: What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?
Meredith Yackel: Some of my favorite Christmas songs are Christmas Time Is Here from Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Silent Night, O Come O Come Emmanuel and basically the entire James Taylor Christmas album.
RC: If you had to choose one song to sing each Christmas, what would it be and why?
MY: My all-time favorite is O Come O Come Emmaunel, so I would most likely go with that one.
RC: Last week you sang it a cappella, can you explain why you chose to perform it this way?
MY: There are not many songs that work very well and really hold up to being sung as an a cappella congregational worship song. However, I think O Come O Come Emmanuel is perfect for this. The lyrics for this song are so haunting, yet hopeful at the same time. You can feel the tension between the begging and pleading nature of the verses—the longing for the Emmaunel, God with us, to come—balanced with the hopefulness of His coming in the refrain. Singing this song a cappella, I think, really allows the lyrics to breath and settle, without being clouded by instrumentation.
RC: What theological aspects of the song do you think we miss if we don't pay attention to the words?
MY: For me, there are really two factors that play into the affect of this song theologically. The lyrics, of coarse, are the main factor, but also the composition of the song in general. Lyrically, I find so much in common between the Israelites and myself. You can see their painful struggle and failures followed by their acknowledgement for their need of a Savior. It’s a pattern I can see and relate to in my own life for sure. Fortunately, we serve a extremely gracious Father, who never neglects to welcome us back when we have strayed. Even in all this sadness, and tragedy we encounter everyday, we still have a reason to rejoice.
Finally, a big part of music is not only the lyrics, but the inflection felt in how the music is arranged in the first place. If it were not for the way the melody were composed, in a eerie-like minor key, it may be easy to surpass the mourning nature heard in this. This is not a light-hearted Christmas song, but a song of mourning and hope—the mourning and hope felt by the Israelites as seen in the Old Testament, and the mourning and hope felt by today’s Christians as we wait in anticipation for the second coming of Christ.
Meredith Yackel serves as worship leader at Redemption City as well as part of the strategy team.