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Sterling Tarrant
KSBJ Houston / Production Director

Christmas Song Thought Starters

 

 



Last week, I wrote about connecting your life to the songs we play, specifically at Christmas.  You can see that article here: http://www.hisair.net/columns/sterling_tarrant12-4-11.htm

I talked about having some Christmas song thought starters, and thank you to those who wrote in for them.  In the Spirit of Christmas, I want to give these as a gift to everyone, no strings attached.   So, here’s the list.  Basically, these bullet points either give you something a little spiritual that you can say about the song, or they prompt you about things in your own life that you can remember to relate an experience to the listener.

I’m continuing to write more of these through the season, and if you’d like the updates, just let me know at sterling@takingitdeeper.com.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

 

Breath of Heaven

 

• This song is a prayer of uncertainty. 

• It is Mary wondering why she was chosen, and expressing how frightened she is to go through this plan of God’s.

• Tie that in to how uncertain our lives are.

• Mention that “maybe, just maybe Jesus came to give us one thing that is certain in our uncertain world.”

• What a gift that is!

 

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• Do you need to sing “Breath of Heaven, hold me together” to help you face the holiday stress?

• Does the thought of seeing certain family members put you on edge?  

• The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit being a “comforter.” 

• He is someone Jesus has sent to us, one we can pray to, to give us strength. 

• He’s a family member you wouldn’t mind seeing.

 

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• The middle part of this song is amazing, where Mary wonders if a wiser one should have had her place - yet she offers her all for the mercy of God’s plan! 

• Do you have something that God has called you to do, and yet out of fear or uncertainty, you haven’t done it? 

• Mary’s example is something you can hold on to, to give you faith to do amazing things!

 

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• “Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.” 

• If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed and defeated and worthless this season, remember that by accepting the gift that is Jesus,  you can have His holiness over you.

• That’s much better than having all the negative stuff that the world says hanging over you like a piece of dead mistletoe.

 

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• During the time of year when the nights are the longest we celebrate that Jesus came in the midst of darkness to bring light,

• ...and life, and warmth, and peace, and security -

• ...and all other kinds of things that are the opposite of “dark”.   

• So here’s your prayer if you’re not feeling very bright today:  “Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness.” 

 

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• This is the time of year when loneliness is quite fierce in the hearts of many. 

• One of the many gifts that God gives through Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the gift of companionship. 

• When the words “be forever near me, Breath of Heaven” are sung here, let those be your words if you’re feeling alone.

 

 

Christmas in Our Hearts - Downhere

 

• This song shows us that there is something inside ourselves that knows that there is a power outside of us.

 

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• There is something in our core that knows there’s something more, and this song speaks to that.

 

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• Let the listener know that you understand about having a little trouble finding Christmas joy.

• However you and they should take heart. It’s OK to have trouble finding it.  It’s normal. It’s human.

• Remember -  we first have to take Christmas into our heart, before we can express it outside our heart.

 

 

Deck the Halls

 

• Deck the Halls is all about decorating and making a merry space to celebrate the most joyous holiday of all. 

• Talk about how your family decorates using a nativity set. 

• Talk about how it is more than just a decoration, how it represents everything about the Christmas season.

 

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• Talk about your favorite decoration, maybe it’s something that was handed down to you, maybe a special homemade ornament. 

• Talk about how a decoration like that can help you remember your past with fondness.

 

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• Encourage the listener to celebrate what God is doing in their life by commemorating it with a special ornament or decoration. 

• For instance, you could say something like “my daughter started playing the flute this year, so we bought her a flute ornament.” or “My wife bought hourglasses for our family members to signify how precious and fleeting the time we spend with them is.”

 

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• Take the line “tis the season to be jolly” and talk about Christmas parties. 

• Talk about fun ones you remember, or ones you look forward to each year. 

• Remind the listener that Jesus came so that we can have that kind of joy 24/7.

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• There’s something about a line like “tis the season to be jolly” - it’s in a language that we don’t speak anymore. 

• We don’t tend to use words like “tis” and “jolly” in normal conversation nowadays. 

• Remind the listener that Christmas is all about remembering glorious things in the past - going all the way back to the beginning of our calendar,

• ...and remembering how the birth of Jesus then changes our future.

 

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• Talk about decking yourself out in festive apparel, or about some of the silliest Christmas-wear you can remember in your family. 

• Talk about how stuff like that results in great family memories that you end up laughing about, and how that is a gift in itself.

 

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• Talk about a family Christmas story, like the one Christmas where it did snow, and how you couldn’t ride the new bike you got. 

• Remind the listener how blessed they are to have great memories and great stories. 

• Remind them to “tell of these Yule tide treasures” and to enjoy the connections they bring with loved ones.

 

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• One chorus reminds us of how “fast away the old year passes,” and how we should “hail the new, ye lads and lasses.”  

• Encourage the listener that God is there to give them a hope for the future.

 

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• The final chorus says “Sing we joyous all together, heedless of the wind and weather.” 

• That’s a perfect line to go into or come out of a wintry weather forecast.”

 

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• Here’s a fun family memory maker:  Tell the parents that every time they hear those repeated requests from their child for the “toy they just gotta have” they should stick their fingers in their ears and shout out “Fa la la la la, la la la la.

 

 

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

 

•  Have you ever been reconciled to a family member?  A wayward mom, daughter, son, dad who came back – tie that story into “God and Sinners reconciled”

 

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• With the line “God and Sinners reconciled – share about how God wants to be reconciled to your listener, and that He never moved away from them.

 

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• Describe when you got the best toy ever, and you wanted to show all your friends. 

• Tie that into the same excitement of the Angels proclaiming the good news of Christ’s arrival.

 

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• This song is about proclaiming. 

• Talk about how - If you were able to get some Peace on Earth this Christmas - wouldn’t that be a gift that you’d proclaim? 

• Good News always is proclaimed.

 

 

 

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

 

• This song was recorded by Bing Crosby for the first time on October 4th, 1943. 

• It was especially moving for an America that was then in the midst of World War II. 

• It became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows for the troops.

 

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• This song was played for astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell in December 1965 when they set the record for the then longest flight in the U.S. space program.

 

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• Connect this song to how we all dream of a better place, and how there is one - heaven, which is our ultimate true home.

 

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• Don’t you find it amazing how a song can give you such strong feelings of “longing.” 

• Talk about how we long for peace, and security, and the love that is found from an innocent childhood home. 

• Mention that God can satisfy that longing no matter where you are.

 

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• Some versions say “Presents on the tree” 

• Some say “Presents under the tree?” 

• Which is better?

 

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• Talk about when you transitioned from Christmas being at your family’s home, to Christmas being at your adult home.  What did you do to make new traditions?

 

 

Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

 

 

• Who’s your favorite person to spend time with at Christmas, and give one sentence as to why you like getting together with them.

• Mention that Christmas is a time when we all long for that kind of companionship.

• Encourage the listener that, even if they have no one else, God is there to hold them tight, so that all the way home they can be warm.

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• Tell the listener that you’re having a tough time justifying going to the mailbox on a cold winter’s night.

• Then invite them to turn up the heat and turn up this song.

 

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• How do you pop popcorn?

• Microwave or on the stove?

• Ask the listener which is better.

• Then let them know that this is the perfect song to string popcorn to.

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

 

 

• Recall having to wait at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning. 

• Remember the joy and exuberance when you were finally allowed to come downstairs and open presents? 

• Compare that to the joy you feel when you realize that Jesus releases you from your sin.

 

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• Have you ever had a Christmas where you felt in lowly exile? 

• Maybe one where you wished you could be home? 

• Talk about how, as Christians, our ultimate home is heaven,  so that means all of our Christmases are spent in exile. 

• It puts the joy we feel of going home in perspective.  It also encourages those who feel sorrow at Christmas,

 

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• One verse of this song says “disperse the gloomy clouds of night.”  

• One of the great gifts provided by Christmas music is that it gives you reminders of what Jesus will do for you. 

• Encourage the listener to really listen to the words while they’re alone in their car.  Have them take them to heart, and trust Jesus to encourage them.

 

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• Listen to this song in a new way today:  Listen to it as someone praying for a rescue. 

• Do you wish someone would rescue you from the stress of the holidays? 

• This song is about how that rescue will come.

 

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• Christmas is a time when we look for people to show up. 

• Like family from out of state, friends to a party, or kids waiting for gifts to arrive. 

• This song is about Jesus showing up, and not just 2000 years ago. 

• He will show up for you today, when you need Him, and if you ask Him. 

 

O Come, All Ye Faithful

 

 

• Think about a person you know who gives you hope.

• One who builds you up, and encourages you.

• Don’t you love spending time with that person?

• Well, there is a person like that who you can see anytime - it’s Jesus.

• And you don’t have to go to Bethlehem to behold Him anymore.

 

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• Talk about someone you know who just had a baby.

• Talk about going to see the baby for the first time.

• Isn’t it exciting to see that new life, to hold the little one for the first time?

• That’s the way you should always approach Jesus.

• With excitement, with expectation, and with joy, knowing that He always has something new for you.

 

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• A still pond reflects the trees on the bank

• However, when it’s iced over, it doesn’t reflect anything.

• Are you feeling a little icy this Christmas? 

• Is the Christmas Spirit just not reflecting off of you?

• One of the best ways to let it show again is to warm your heart by adoring the baby in the manger.

• And by singing “Glory to God in the Highest.”

 

 

 

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

 

• When was the first time you spent Christmas away from your family? 

• Tie that into Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem.

 

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• Describe a Christmas where you saw hope displayed. 

• Tie it into “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

 

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• When did God meet your needs unexpectedly? 

• Tie that into “no ear may hear Him coming” – and how He meets needs when you least expect it.

 

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• Share salvation based on the line “the dear Christ enters in”

 

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• Ask Mom if she’s ready for a deep and dreamless sleep? – and if it’s not going to come until AFTER Christmas?

 

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• There’s a line that says “While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.”

• Ever had a time when you thought Angels were watching over you?

 

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• Did you grow up in a little town?  Describe how everyone knew each other, and watched out for each other. 

• Tie that into Jesus watching out for you.

 

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• Paint the picture of a family member taking Super 8 movies using a bright light bar. 

• Explain how that light bar is like an “everlasting light” that sticks in your mind

 

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• Are you a parent who wishes your child would come back to you? 

• Tell the listener that the words “O come to us, abide with us” are a prayer that you are praying for their child.

 

 

 

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

 

• Regarding the Brenda Lee version, Brenda was only 13 when she recorded this song in 1958.

•  Let the listener who has teens know that it is possible to get them to do great things in life and that you’ll help pray for them.

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• “Mistletoe hung where you can see, Every couple tries to stop.”  

• Ask the listener if they’re stopping down to show some love to their family, or if they’re just rushing through a to-do list this season.

 

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• Share a memory about a Christmas tree.  Here’s some ideas:

• Maybe it involves an ornament you made as a kid, or an ornament your kid has made. 

• Colored lights or white lights? 

• Steady or blinking? 

• Star or Angel on top?

 

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• This song is all about singing and dancing. 

• Remind the listener of the line from Buddy the Elf:  “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

• If they’re not feeling the Christmas spirit, maybe they just need to turn this song up loud in their car and belt it out.

 

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• This song talks about the Christmas party hop. 

• Talk about an annual Christmas party that you look forward to. 

• Share a story as to why it’s memorable.  

• Or talk about a party from your past where a song like this would have been played.  Tie it into the line about getting a sentimental feeling.

 

 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

 

 

• Remember, as little kids, how we’d hide behind the couch when the scary Bumble the Abominable Snowmonster showed up in the 1960‘s TV classic?    

• Now we’ve grown up and he’s not so scary anymore. 

• If there is anything about your Christmas that scares you, like not having enough money, or dealing with relatives, there is someone you can stand behind. 

• Through prayer, God will help you put your fears in perspective.

 

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• It always hurts to be teased because you’re different. 

• The Bible has characters like that.  A guy named Zacchaeus was teased because he was both a tax collector and a “wee little man.”

• But he led the way as an unlovable person who was changed by an encounter with Jesus.

• Maybe you know someone unlovable - we can help you pray that they will come to know God.

 

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• Rudolph came along just in time to save the day.

• There’s a character in the Bible named Ruth.

• God put her at just the right place at just the right time to save a lot of people.

• We’re praying that each and every listener will come to know exactly the purpose that God has for them.

 

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• Rudolph wasn’t liked very much at first

• But he went on to become the greatest reindeer of all.

• That’s really the story of Christmas.

• God became flesh and dwelt among us as a helpless lowly baby in a cattle stall.  He grew up to become King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

 

Silver Bells

 

• Talk about a time when “In the air there was a feeling of Christmas” in your life.

• Was it on a street corner, or when you were rushing home with your treasures?

• Or was it at a church service?

• Remind the listeners that “that feeling of Christmas” usually shows up when we least expect it,

• and usually when we don’t force it.

 

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• Today you hear the ring-a-ling of the city’s Silver Bells by the red kettle.

• Remind the listeners that the best way to get that “feeling of Christmas” is by giving to the less fortunate.

 

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• This song mentions how even the stoplights blink a bright red and green.

• Let them know that if they’re stopped at one that a great thing they can do is pray for the person or people in the car next to them.  That they will know the true “feeling of Christmas.” 

 

Sleigh Ride

 

• This song reminds you to cuddle up

• Because even if the weather (or life) is brutal,

• It’s easier to get through it together.

 

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• This song practices the lost art of “yoo hooing”

• It’s the proper term for “inviting others over”

• Do you have someone that you could “yoo hoo” over tonight?

 

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• Tell your kids that the Spirit of Christmas isn’t about everything they can “get”

• It’s about everything that they can “give”

• And one of the best things to give is the gift of a great memory.

• And this song is about “the wonderful things we remember all through our lives.”

 

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• Share a memory of playing in the snow.

• Here’s mine...my dad tied inner tubes to the back of his Jeep and pulled us behind it on icy country roads...can you imagine!

• Let the listeners know that great memories are a gift from God.  He didn’t have to make us so that we’d remember, but He did.

• This song is a memory of a joyful time.

• And God wants to bring you joyful memories again.

 

 

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

 

 

 

• This song was written in 1944 by Mel Torme and Bob Wells during a blistering hot summer in an effort to “stay cool while thinking cool.”  

• That’s a good technique to adopt.   If you want to be successful, or positive, you need to think about the positive things that God has to say about you in the Bible. 

• Things like: “you are wonderfully made” and “He has a plan for you to prosper you and bring you peace.”

 

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• When Jack Frost nips at your nose, you tend to put on a scarf. 

• In the same way, when the world nips at you, you need to put on the armor of God which is found in Ephesians 6.

 

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• Describe a time when you heard yuletide carols sung by a choir.  Maybe it was at a school program or a church cantata. 

• Describe how it lifted your spirits. 

• Maybe you have a “community calendar” at your station, and you could highlight some Christmas concerts and events coming out of this song.

 

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• The Nat King Cole version of this song is one that is extremely peaceful. 

• Talk about what you’re going to do to make your Christmas a little more peaceful this year. 

• Maybe all you can do is take three minutes right now and listen to this song.

 

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• What I want to know is, what about the kids who are older than ninety-two, can’t they have a Merry Christmas too? :)

 

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• Talk about Christmas mischief.  About kids spying to see if reindeer can fly. 

• Maybe talk about something creative you did to present a gift to someone else, like wrapping it in multiple boxes, or hiding it with clues, or bringing out a big gift after all others were opened.

• Talk about how Christmas can be a creative way to show our love to others. 

• How Jesus being born as a baby was a creative way that God came to be reconciled to us.

 

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• Talk about a Christmas when you were a kid that you found it hard to sleep, or talk about how early your kids get up on Christmas morning.

 

 

Winter Wonderland

 

 

• Talk about the wonder of taking a young child sledding.  About how most of them are fearless, wanting to tackle the big hills immediately. 

• Remind the listener that we tend to want to hide away when our world is wintery, cold, and brutal, 

• but instead -by trusting in God - He can help us survive the big hills and big chills.  Almost to the point where we can enjoy it - like a child sledding in a winter wonderland.

 

 

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• One night a dad and his young daughter went out walking after a big snowstorm. 

• They came across a lighted plastic nativity set, and the daughter had to go up and brush the snow off of Baby Jesus. 

• Then she leaned down and gave Him a kiss. 

• Ask the listeners if they keep a clear view of Jesus, or do they let Him get covered up in their lives by their day to day busyness?

 

 

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• Ask your listeners if they “dream by the fire” and if they “face unafraid, the plans that they’ve made.” 

• Let them know that God is available, prayer is available, and Jesus wants them to go after the dreams He’s given them.

 

 

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• As you go into this song thank the listeners for listening as the sleigh bells ring this season.

• Remind them that they’ll hear a much more uplifting sound than just sleigh bells, here all year round.

 

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•The bluebird has gone away, and here to stay is a new bird. 

• Remind the listener that this station is here to chase away the blues with positive music all year long

 

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• There’s a story in here about mean kids knocking down a snowman. 

• Did you ever have that happen to you?  Tell about a friend who had some kids do that to a snow “bunny” his daughter built.  She was devastated. 

• However she went back out and built it again. 

• Remind the listeners that when the meanness of this world knocks them down, they can get back up and rebuild, and God is there to help them do it.

 

 

White Christmas

 

• One definition of a “dream” is “a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal, and this song is about that dream of an ideal Christmas. 

• Ask your listeners if they are stressed because they’re trying to make it a perfect Christmas.

• Remind them that God is the only one who can make it snow for Christmas, and that He is the only one who can make their lives merry, no matter what their circumstances.

 

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• Ask your listeners what they are dreaming of? 

• Is it a White Christmas, or do they have dreams of a better life? 

• Remind them that there are dozens of instances in the Bible where God speaks to people through their dreams. 

• Encourage them to stop and think that maybe God is trying to say something to them through what they dream.

 

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• Remember a White Christmas season when you walked outside at night and noticed how quiet it was? 

• A heavy blanket of snow just absorbs all the sound. 

• Encourage your listeners to practice getting quiet during this hectic season.

• If they do, God will probably speak to them. 

• Remind them that He doesn’t tend to shout over all the Christmas noise, he tends to speak in an intimate one-on-one conversation.

 

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• In 1942, when Irving Berlin wrote this song, America was in the midst of a World War, and Bing Crosby’s version struck a deep emotional chord with the soldiers and their families. 

• That’s why this song is one of the most popular ever written.

• It resonates with a deeper principle - one that says “no matter how deep your stress, or pain, or heartache, there can be dreams that all will be made right.” 

• All will be “merry and bright” once again.

 

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Here are some memories from the movie “White Christmas”  that will get a response in your listeners minds:

 

• The train ride to Vermont:  “Snow, snow, snow. snow”  “I want to wash my hair with snow”

• “Sisters, Sisters”

• Danny Kaye’s hilarious fake ankle sprain.

• Counting blessings instead of sheep.  Bing’s song to Rosemary at the piano.

• The bizarre musical number “Choreography”

• “What do you do with a General, when he stops being a General?”

• The final scene when they open up the barn and the snow is coming down.

 

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• The modern version of this song should say “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, with every status update I write.”

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Sterling Tarrant is the Production Director at KSBJ in Houston,. Since 1978 he has specialized in connecting people to products through copywriting, voicework, and production.  He also helps other stations message effectively.  He does that through the KSBJ Mentoring Department, and also through his own company, Port of Entry Communications, which exists to connect messages to people’s hearts.  He can be reached at sterlingtarrant@gmail.com