Could it be that God makes people for the purpose of participating in one event, in order to pull off One Big Accomplishment? I don’t think so, with one possible exception: It might be that Michael W. Smith’s entire purpose for living on this earth was to create the 1989 album, Christmas.
Am I overstating?
To be clear, this is Smith’s 1989 Christmas album, not his later Christmastime or It’s a Wonderful Christmas. Those are nice, but Christmas was an unexpected surprise.
In the 1980s, Michael W. Smith was firmly entrenched in his Pop Music period. He made his Alan Parsons beard / argyle sweater & socks combo actually cool. He had a genuine message, but he was definitely Mr. Christian Pop.
So in 1989, when I saw that His Pop-ness had released a Christmas CD, I ran (not walked) to my local Christian bookstore to buy it. (Yes kids, I bought music in a store on a thing called a CD. I nearly broke my arm hand cranking my Model T to get there) Having acquired my musical prize, I hurried home and put the disc in my stereo, prepared to ROCK OUT for Christmas.
Didn’t happen. Not even close.
Michael’s voice was out in front in many of the songs, but Christmas was basically an orchestral, choral Cantata of original Christmas music woven together with traditional carols, and not a Jingle Bell in sight. I was blown away. That Smith guy could do much more than just add extra syllables to words to make them fit the music (though it’s true that nobody can sing Yeah–eee-yeah–uh better than Michael).
My awe was not borne out of surprise that Mr. Christian Pop had serious Musical Chops. What floored me was the message of the entire album as a cohesive work of art. Musically, lyrically it wove a tender picture of the Nativity of our Lord.
One of my favorite moments is a simple verse sung by a child:
All is well, all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love’s light
A baby is born and darkness falls into the dawn of love’s light. The night is pushed back by a tiny spark that turns out to be the Light of the World.
And heav’n brought down
Its only child
The Son of Man
The world reconciled
Simple words. A simple idea. An awesome reality. Eternal Truth had come to earth, and He would live like us, suffer like us, and be tempted like us. He would die too, but not like us. He would die with the weight of all our sins on Him. But it isn’t a tale that ends in sadness, it’s a tale that includes the victory of the resurrection…but it all starts…
Quietly with no one watching
From the womb of perfect peace
Wellspring of our joy delivered
Into earthly destiny
Christmas is an awesome album, but it is the quiet clarity of its message that is timeless and touches my heart whenever I hear it. Over 20 years later, I still take time every Christmas season to lay down, close my eyes, and really listen to the message of Christmas.
Was this album really God’s one purpose for the life of Michael W. Smith? No, but it points me to the Father’s purpose in sending His Son, and it reminds me that His purpose for me is to join in the song that started in a shepherds’ field over 2000 years ago.
And song broke forth
And none could help
But sing the name
Kyrie eleison we sing
Glory to the newborn King
Mortal and immortal voices
Endless praises echoing