A Christmas hymnsing

Confession: I never, ever get my fill of the Christmas carols. For this reason, one of our new favorite-of-favorite holiday traditions is inviting friends in for a hymn sing.

Each year, our local community enjoys a Christmas concert at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon—and we’ve found that in the evening afterwards, very few of our friends have other plans made. We’re already dressed up and in the mood for joy. It’s the perfect time to get together.

hymnal - Silent Night

We borrow Songs of Faith and Praise from our church house, and The Mennonite Hymnal from our sister church; and we ask my dad (who is good at things like this) to bring along lesser-known sheet music for us to try.

Then we line up two very capable babysitters to entertain our 15-20 kiddos upstairs, with books and games and child-friendly food.

And then—we sit in the living room and just sing.

And sing.

Partway through the evening we break for food: this year, a build-your-own taco bar with lots of fixings.

taco salad

It doesn’t all go as planned. My boys throw hissy fits about sharing their Legos. I later vacuum chip crumbs from every corner of my upstairs. And when we try to finish the music with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus, we can’t remember where to go, and get stuck in an endless circle involving “King of Kings” forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever—And so we end the evening hunched over my very quiet laptop instead, listening to Christopher Hogwood’s chorus perform it, so at least we can get the final chord Exactly Right.

But oh, it is JOY!

I love to see the bright faces of family and friends. I love the way the children glow over the fun they had. Most of all, I love the beauty of a dozen or more full voices blending together in worship of a newborn King, and in friendship with one another. This is the part I long to come back to each year. Glorious!


Where do you sing the songs of Christmas? Which carol do you love best?
And if you are local and wish you were here, tell me! I’d love to include you next year…

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Jo Yoder
8 years ago

Ooooo, I totally wish to have been there last night!! Our church was Christmas caroling, and it was a wonderful evening, too…but every year this time, I miss singing some of the more challenging Christmas hymns with which I grew up. What an absolutely wonderful tradition!

My favorite Christmas hymn is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”…it speaks more deeply to my heart each time I sing or hear it.

8 years ago

I looove this idea!! Christmas caroling as I was growing up was a favorite activity. Just hearing the familiar songs makes me feel the cold air and the freezing toes and the smiling old people in the doorways…

mom coblentz
8 years ago

It was an amazing night! Food! People! Noisy kids upstairs! Definitely a highlight of December!

8 years ago

Christmas music is my favorite too.

So far this year we have sung at a nursing home and a few elderly neighbors. Tomorrow we plan to carol with our church to some more elderly. Last night at church we had a night of music and Scripture readings. The one who planned it had papers printed up with the Scriptures in different colors. Each person help read the Scripture depending upon your age and gender. I read the red words – for females under age 40! I love how the Scriptures and songs coordinated and my baby even left me sit in the whole service – except for the very last song.

Now I’m going to turn on some Christmas music!

8 years ago

singing the beautiful carols is my favorite Christmas traditions….at home…at church…around the block…at nursing homes….at your house!!!!

It was a delightful, joy-filled evening for sure even though I couldn’t hit one high note. 🙂

8 years ago

oh….and my favorite carol????

I love a robust (basically exploding) rendition of Joy to the World.

When I’m alone I love to sing “The Drummer Boy”

8 years ago
Reply to  Shaunda

love LOVE Drummer Boy!!!

Mama Zook
8 years ago

This year I’ve been singing Drummer Boy as my two little granddaughters keep time on their home made drums made from empty coffee cans and Lincoln log drumsticks! And then there is that string of blinking lights that plays the Christmas carols with just a few improvised notes!! Somehow the kiddos just can’t leave those turned off, and it brings back many memories listening to it over and over!

8 years ago

singing Christmas carols in Spanish is something I think I will always enjoy. Christmas caroling where I live in Central America does not include cups of hot chocolate or bundling up, but walking along with puff clouds of dust lifting from sandaled feet and sweat running down our faces….. venid, venid, oh Emanuel, alegrate oh Israel. The culture so different, but the wonderful message the very same.

Matthew Mast
8 years ago

If chip crumbs in every corner of the upstairs was the only damage done I’d be surprised…. And I admire your sons’ ability to share their stuff–the one time I poked my head upstairs I gaped at the havoc that had been done to their Legos. But what a wonderful evening–thank you!

8 years ago

Please tell me you sang “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” It’s #117 in The Mennonite Hymnal, and my Christmas isn’t complete without it.

Our little congregation has been leading a brutal singing schedule: six choir programs, a caroling, and a hymnsing within two weeks. I confess I’ll be glad when we’re done.

8 years ago

Now this sounds like a great idea! When we were first married we had a messiah sing along evening all crowded into our little living room belting it out with the recording to ensure we at least got some of the notes right in the proper places. We haven’t attempted anything like it ‘since children’. Perhaps we’ll have to try the babysitters upstairs idea and do it again some year…

8 years ago

This is so much fun to hear from other people who like Christmas music!! In my area a lot of people always gripe about singing Christmas songs. Singing carols more than a week before Christmas Day almost does them in. I would love it if we would do something like this!

8 years ago

I love Christmas carols! Our church won’t be singing them for another week. My favorites are “O come O come Emmanuel”‘, “Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)”, “Silent Night”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “We Three Kings,” “Said the Night Wind”, “What Child is This?”, and “Joy to the World” Did I mention I love Christmas carols?

8 years ago

I love singing Christmas songs as well, though this year I will likely get to sing very few of them with a group, but I am inspired to go sit down at my keyboard sometime today and play and sing a few. I love singing Joy to the World. Welcome to our world and Christmas Shoes are also favorites of mine.

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