Just as the thought that Christmas carols were given to us by God to preserve the glorious reality of the Incarnation and Christology in general – through whatever horrors and distortions the modern world has to throw at the Faith – and that I ought to write something about this,
Dr. Peter got in there ahead of me:
While we know that the Mass itself is not the optimal place for hymns, which belong more correctly in the Divine Office (with the exception of the Gloria and, if one considers it a hymn, the Sanctus), nevertheless there is an important truth to which Dupanloup bears witness: the value of singing together beautiful vernacular religious songs that have the power to shape the senses, imagination, and memory, and through them, to shape the heart and mind.
We are so blessed with a rich repertoire of famous Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany carols, hymns, and songs, and we should use them abundantly in our homes, in youth groups, in prayer meetings or Adoration, when caroling in the neighborhood, visiting a nursing home or prison, or any other appropriate setting. Let us not surrender the world of sound to secular content, but fill it with joyful singing! It is, in more ways than one, a corporal and spiritual work of mercy.
Children, especially, deserve to have glowing memories of carols, just as Dupanloup recounts. This is a preaching of the Gospel “before the age of reason,” a preaching to all the powers of the soul, not just to the intellect, which has been excessively emphasized in recent decades. Catechesis begins with the senses and the imagination.
In Norcia for the holiday. A blessed Christmas to all…