True story. A boy once walked up to his mother at home and said, “Mommy, does God like peas?” Puzzled, the mother answered, “I imagine He does. Why?” The boy was referring to a song in church, the first verse of Michael Card’s “Barocha,” one of the many musical interpretations of Numbers 6:24-26. The boy, however, thought the lyrics were as follows:
“The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And give you peas, and give you peas,
And give you peas forever.”
So, in that vein, I’m recalling a few of the misunderstandings of Christmas Carols I’ve had or heard.
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear - I couldn’t help but worry about proper musical posture when the angels “bent” near the earth to play their harps.
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing - For a long time, I thought “Herald” was the name of an angel, not a role of an angel.
What Child is This? - Why are the shepherds guarding while the angels sing? As a child, I was worried that Herod could send a trained army to the stable, and its only defense would be the shepherds.
O Little Town of Bethlehem - “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” No pressure.
Away in a Manger - Did the baby Jesus truly ever cry? Did the author intend that sentence as a present indicative? People get into tongue-in-cheek theological debates about this almost annually, but I think we can all agree that Jesus never figuratively cried, as in He never fully resigned himself, emotionally, to any situation. That’s why I feel fine singing this song.
We Three Kings - When I was a kid, I didn’t know about all the historical assumptions of this song, but I thought they were from a place called “Orientar.”
Can you think of any other examples?