Article – Crash Course in Christian Music for Christmas Time

Crash Course in Christian Music for Christmas Time

TL;DR – Getting you ready for waling into a unknown church this holiday season


So it is that time of year again, when people are flying back to their parent’s homes, or staying with friends and whether by design or surprise they may find themselves heading off to an unfamiliar Church for some kind of Christmas service.

Like all social institutions Churches have their own rituals and formats, and so can end up being daunting Matrix slow-mo bullet dodging exercise trying not to look like a fool, but this where we are here to help. Indeed you may get lucky and all they will sing is Christmas carols that you are used to, unless you work in retail in which case this might be the opposite of lucky for you.

But today we will go through a selection (not all) of the types of music you are likely to encounter these holidays so that you can be better prepared for what is coming. So let us begin.

The Hymn ...

If you are going to any super traditional church, that is one where the average age is 65+, you are going to have to sing A Lot Of Hymns. Hymns are songs written in the 1800s back when it was in vogue to put thys and thous, and st’s at the end of every word, even though no one else used it in normal spoken language. So be prepared for some very old style words and sentence construction. On the plus side, most of these will be in little books an old lady might hand you as you walk in, so you can hold them up and cover your face so no one knows you have no idea what is going, the downs side is … well –


But there will be so many verses you should get it by the end … so many verses

The Catholic Orthodox Switcheroo

Generally speaking, this is the same as the Hymns above bar the fact that they are likely to be sung in Latin/Greek/Armenian/Amharic/Macedonian/Mandarin etc.

Now if you can speak these languages, follow the advice from above, if you can’t, well then pray you are not seated next to your grandmother and hope for the best

The Puritan Standard

Like plain baked potatoes and a glass of water, these are not very interesting, but on the flip side, they are also not that difficult. So they should be easy to pick up as it is the same verse, over and over again, sometimes literally with the same words.

  • Verse
  • Verse
  • Verse

If you are really, really lucky there may be a chord change for the final verse, but don’t hold your breath, which is just good advice in general because you need to breathe to oxygenate your blood and keep on living. Also, though not that the music will warrant it, but don’t clap along unless someone up front is doing it and everyone else is joining in.

The Anglican Chorus

Now, this is where we start changing things up, well sorta, ok only a little, but trust me in some churches this small change in music was a battle fought across multiple committees and whispered conversations over morning tea. This time we get to introduce the chorus to our musical line up, but don’t get too excited because it is like to just go:

  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Verse
  • Chorus

And then the end, this might be one long chord, or it could just trail off, or maybe, just maybe, if the guitar player is adventurous you might see a small flourish at the end.

The Protestant Twist

This is much like the standard chorus but we are taking it to a whole new level, because watch out world, this time we have embellishments that will come into play. But to reign back your interest for a moment, in 90% of the time, the only embellishment will be the addition of a bridge section to the song, usually before the final chorus. So it might go:

  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Bridge
  • Chorus

And then the end, now here is where you need to be careful, because depending on who is leading the music they may repeat the last line of the chorus, and be warned, it is not always written on the music slides, or in the handout you were given on the way in.

Now, this is the most likely scenario, but you could also get call and response, where one side of the Church sings one line and the other side sings another. Or possibly the men will sing one line and the women the other. If you are not sure mime the words, lest you come in at the wrong time in a very noticeable fashion.

The Pentecostal Surprise

Ok here we have the one where I can give you the least amount of help because it could be any combination of the previous categories, indeed, it could do every single thing in the one song. Things to look out for:

  • If you are literally in a Pentecostal Church, give enough room to the people next to you for the moment hands launch into the air, if you are not prepared for this accidental collisions can occur and set off a chain reaction, like awkward dominoes.
  • The lead singer might want to do a solo so watch out because everyone else will know when not to sing and so it will be noticeable when you jump in early.
  • The ending may go on forever, and ever … amen. The last chorus may get repeated a couple of times, then the last line in the last chorus might get repeated a couple of times. There could be musical interludes for you to navigate around, basically, I am saying this is a musical minefield, follow those who have gone ahead of you and you should be safe.
  • There could be a lot of call and response amens, unless you are sitting next to your grandmother don’t yell out too loudly, lest you get it wrong.
  • There may be clapping, only clap if the rest of the congregation is getting into it.

With these tips you may survive your unanticipated Church trip without causing any social faux pas, good luck and God bless and see you next year.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Feel free to share this article on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All photos are by the author

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