Okay, let’s admit it: If a visitor to our planet wanted to learn about the human race by logging on to YouTube, he might react like Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear, who upon landing in Andy’s room, reported “No signs of intelligent life anywhere.”
A media outlet whose biggest hits include dogs on skateboards, Darth Vader playing the bagpipes on a unicycle, and the song “What Does the Fox Say?” probably says more about our culture than we’d like to admit.
But once in a while a true gem washes ashore from this sea of digital frivolity. That’s the case with a new music video from an a cappella singing group, Pentatonix, a troop of five young artists who make musical instruments sound almost obsolete.
Their rendition of Katherine Kennicott Davis’ 1941 Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy” is simply stunning, and the sense of anticipation for Christ’s arrival it evokes is palpable. Within two weeks of its release, over 12 million people had watched it—and most of them seem to be sharing it on my Facebook newsfeed!
The source material for this beloved song comes from a centuries-old Czech carol. But most of us know it from the 1968 stop-motion television special about Aaron, an orphan boy in the first century Israel who hates the world—until the Magi lead him to Bethlehem, where he finds the gift of a God who so loves the world.
Pentatonix’s breathtaking version of “Drummer Boy” recalls not only sweet memories of childhood Christmases but of the true meaning declared in all of the very best carols: that a Visitor has landed on our planet. And His Advent is the central moment of human history.
The humble cry of an Infant—heard over two thousand years ago in an obscure village of a far-flung Roman province—fulfilled the longings of a world “in sin and error pining,” and of an enslaved nation whose prophets had promised a Messiah.
Another popular music video, the Piano Guys’ haunting performance of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” captures this longing flawlessly. The fact that masterpieces like these have taken the internet by storm offers hope not only for the quality of content on YouTube, but for a culture, a nation, and a planet for which that Child and the Man He became is the only solution.
That’s why for Christians, Christmas is fun and festive, but it’s also serious business. One of my most treasured conversations with Chuck Colson was about the theology of Christmas carols. As he said, there are no hymns which better express the grand sweep of redemption than those we sing at this time of year.
Chuck believed—and I do, too—that the main reason Christmas holds such a special place in our hearts and why YouTube musicians can move us to tears isn’t the joy of food, festivities, and family. It’s the hope brought into the world through God’s Incarnation.
Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to these wonderful music videos, as well as my two-part conversation with Chuck Colson on the profound theology behind our favorite carols. And then check out our study series entitled “He Has Come,” which delves even deeper into the worldview of Advent.
I pray all of this draws you to the manger, where our hoped-for Messiah still inspires modern-day drummers to play their best for Him.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: December 12, 2013