One of my favorite Christmas songs is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". Though it's one that seems to have fallen out of favor with radio airplay, it became a favorite of mine when I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's version while in college. (I also grew to appreciate Bing Crosby's version.)

"For hate is strong, and mocks the song of 'peace on earth, good will to men'"

I think the song in its melancholy melody and lyric encapsulate some of the natural cynicism that crops up around this time of year for many, even the most optimistic like myself. Even if we aren't looking for it, we realistically consider that things aren't exactly any better this year than they were LAST Christmas. Yet we hear the bells (or our modern secular equivalent of commercials promising Christmas morning perfection) and like the character in the song's story, bow our heads in despair because we haven't experienced that perfect Christmas and we don't see peace on earth coming any time soon. "For hate is strong, and mocks the song of 'peace on earth, good will to men'". Has this not been more true-seeming of the world in 2014 than in any recent year of our lives? 

"Then pealed the bells, more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does He sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail."

But the triumphant bridge of the song (what Steven Curtis Chapman really did well in his version) brings us back to the hope those bells are pealing for. It's this hope, though no longer in vogue with wider culture or modern marketing campaigns, that is the central message of hope each Christmas. This song reminds me, no matter how many listens, of the great truth that God intervenes in history to put an end to evil. And that's what Christmas is all about. 

What are the songs of Christmas that help you fight off cynicism or even despair? THE ones that remind you of the reason for the hope of Christ?

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