Lullaby Theology 102: Singing the Whole Gospel of God, Part 1

I’m one of those people who don’t believe in playing Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, so while As with Gladness, Men of Old may sneak into sleepy time repertoire a couple of times in the warmer months, we don’t sing Christmas music until Advent begins. Once Advent begins, Christmas music is almost the only music we sing, because it would be hard to top Infant Holy, Infant Lowly or Silent Night at the close of a winter day with a bundle of baby in your arms. The soft and sweet melodies that roll with such gentle adoration for a newborn King speak tender benedictions over the littlest heads with assurances of God’s nearness, mercy, and grace.

It’s tempting to stay there, close to His cradle and the star’s light and angel songs. It’s safe and child-friendly in a world where much is scary. David had just recovered from a scary encounter with heffalumps and woozles in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when daylight savings time ended. Suddenly the sun started setting too quickly in his little world. As day shortened, fears grew. David would look up at us and say “don’t be scared” as we tried to convince him that he doesn’t need to be afraid. It wasn’t Advent yet, so our lullabies didn’t come from the tender Nativity. We simply sang our normal selection of hymns: The Love of God, Here is Love, I Will Sing of My Redeemer, etc. Slowly his fears began to subside again, but not before I saw the grand irony of our routine: here we were, rocking and cuddling with David to chase his fears away, singing over him lullabies of the crucifixion of Christ as God’s appointed means of substitutionary atonement.

Surely, if there is anything in this world scarier than the dark, it is the violent death of crucifixion and the wrath of God. We don’t want our children to be scared; we want them to feel secure and loved. We want Jesus to be near them, close by them forever to love them. But that’s just it. Unless Jesus dies on the cross, He cannot be their friend. The song David sings most these days is Jesus Loves Me. What he doesn’t realize is that the song has more than one verse:

Jesus loves me—this I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong— They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me—He who died Heaven’s gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in.
The song goes on from there, but the important thing to note is what it does not skip: the reality of sin and the necessity of the cross.
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