I adore Christmas. I love everything about the Christmas season – the anticipation of Advent, the smells of holiday baking, the twinkle lights cutting through the darkness, and the music; oh the music! In a year devoid of many traditional markers, I’m already mourning the loss of many of my favorite Christmas activities. But there will still be music. I’ve queued up Spotify playlists, dug old cds out of the corners of my car, and dusted off some of my grandfather’s old Christmas classics to play on our record player.
But one can only listen to White Christmas and Frosty the Snowman so many times before the wonder starts to wear thin. So I’m perpetually on the lookout for Christmas music that tells the Truth. Not just the truth that we often do have snow on Christmas day, or that for better or worse there really is no place like home for the holidays. I want the wild, reckless Truth of a baby. I want to feel the anticipation, built across centuries, that the Promised One is coming; the True Story that began when time began and is not yet finished.
Slightly complicating matters is the fact that my 3-year-old doesn’t love listening to Bing Crosby or Michael Bublé or even Andrew Peterson for very long (Sorry, AP). He likes Daniel Tiger and the Cars soundtrack and Raffi. So this year, my greatest Christmas music triumph has been Michael Tinker’s latest album, The King Has Arrived. Not only does it tell that whole glorious Truth of Christmas, it’s also just really fun.
Owing to the accidental creation of a time machine, Michael and his friends take us from the beginning of creation all the way to Jesus as they tell the full story of Christmas. With intermittent narration and drama (time-travel is not without perils, after all), the songs make scripture come alive. And on top of truly excellent music, Tinker manages to pack a lot of Biblical history and theology into his lyrics. In addition to the usual suspects (Mary, the shepherds, some wise men), The King Has Arrived also gives shout-outs to Adam and Eve, Moses, Malachi, and Zachariah.
Theologically, Tinker covers the incarnation, union with God, fulfilled prophecy, and substitutionary atonement, all with the simplicity and care required by children. So now, when my son is walking around the house singing his favorite songs, I don’t just hear “Life is a Highway” but now can hear:
He’s here!/He’s the ‘yes’ to all God’s plans/He’s here/fully God and fully man/God has come to us/He’s born for us/He’s one with us/He’s here with us/He’s here!
As we listened to the story and the songs, we talked about what it would have been like to be a shepherd hearing the heavenly choir – what would that choir have sounded like? Maybe operatic? Maybe country-western? And then on to more lasting questions: Is Jesus really better than Santa? How can we trust God today? By taking us on this journey, The King Has Arrived opened the door for these questions and let my family walk around inside the story for a while.
This album is worth listening to from start to finish in one setting. So press play as you sit in your kitchen to decorate all those Christmas cookies, or as you hang ornaments on your tree, or as you begin your road trip home. After this long, hard year, let this music remind you that God’s plan extends back to the very beginning and that He is using even 2020 to bring about the fullness of that plan. Take courage, friends. The Lord is on the move.
The King Has Arrived is available at https://michaeljtinker.com/shop/