A blog by Josh Humbert
Somewhere, hidden away at my parent’s house, is a VHS tape that captured a moment of great unintentional comedy. It is a moment of childlike wonder and surprise…and goofiness.
The tape shows my family all taking turns to open gifts on Christmas and my turn comes next.
Eight-year-old-me is hyper and anxiously surveying gifts to choose from. What will I unwrap next?
Some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy??
Maybe a really sweet Batman figurine??
My anticipation rises…
Confession: I have my limits on Christmas music. I simply cannot abide bad Christmas music. “Last Christmas I gave you my heart…”? TRASH CAN. “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time…”? NO, not at all. “All I want for Christmas…” is to NEVER hear Mariah belt that song out again.
There are bright spots, though. Artists who carefully craft and recreate classics in such a way as to bring new life to them. One band that has mastered the art of the Christmas EP is Future of Forestry. Your holidays will instantly be better with the addition of their three collections of Christmas songs.
One particular favorite of mine is their remake of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” They take a song I’ve never had a fondness for and completely change it’s trajectory.
Future Of Forestry’s frontman (say that 3 times fast) Eric Owyung describes their thought process this way:
“When we heard the song, it reminded us of a nursery rhyme. Normally when we’ve heard this song it reminds us of a children’s song. We wanted to take a children’s style song and add some mysterious and complex music. In a way, sometimes even dark music. There’s something that happens when you combine those things. When you combine innocent lyrics with dark music, it creates a storybook-type experience.”
A nursery rhyme. A child’s song. Exactly right, and that’s why I’ve never connected with “Do You Hear What I Hear?” much.
Until they got ahold of it…
When you hear Future Of Forestry’s version, the first 2 minutes are soft and gentle. The nursery rhyme. A wind talking to a little lamb. The child’s song. A little lamb talking to a shepherd boy.
All is calm, all is bright….
2017 saw the release of The Justice League movie. Batman and a collection of other super-heroes team up to stop evil and save the world from disaster.
Ben Affleck is the actor who plays Batman in the film. As he did media appearances to promote the film, he said something that caught me by surprise.
He said, “Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?”
Eight-year-old-me begins to open the present. Wrapping paper is torn to shred and flutters down all over the living room.
The camera zooms in.
My excitement is palpable, as is true for any 8-year-old child opening gifts on Christmas. It’s not all-the-way unwrapped but I can tell it’s not a Ninja Turtle and it’s not a Batman toy. WHAT COULD IT BE?? Surely it is something amazing!
The moment is too much to be contained inside me. I’m almost there. I open my mouth and exclaim: “HOLY!!!!!……BIBLE!?”
Holy Bible. Yes. That is, in fact, what it was. A copy of God’s Word.
The sounds of my parents laughing at my shock and surprise fill the tape. The camera is no longer steady…a steady stream of chuckles bounces the picture wildly. My family is repeating my words in an eruption of giggles.
Perhaps Future Of Forestry has lulled you into the warm comfort of what you thought the song would always be. Perhaps you had settled in and thought you knew how things would go. Winds and little lambs and shepherd boys and such….
Right near the 2-minute mark, the song transitions into something else entirely. There is brief moment of bells elegantly playing. Then….it all breaks loose.
LOUD, BOLD guitars. CRASHING drums. Power. Shock. New horizons.
The nursery rhyme is gone. The child’s song has become an epic declaration.
HOLY….BIBLE!! DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?!
A childlike wonder and anticipation over what gift awaits. The staggering nature when you experience the shocking twist an artist has crafted. A joy too loud to keep quiet. A tidal wave of beauty arriving where you didn’t expect it.
These are elements of the Christmas story that are so crucial. This is the truth of what God has done.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?
That wouldn’t be merely “nice,” that would be life-changing! And so it is. There is a SOMEBODY and it’s not a Ninja Turtle or Batman. His name is Jesus Christ and He is the One can save us all from this.
From the tragedy of Adam and Eve falling in the garden, there has been a PROMISE from God recorded in the…Holy Bible. There would be a Savior. He would come to us. We won’t be left alone.
And the years went by. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Waiting. Waiting. Watching. Enduring.
Then, at the right time: Christmas. Immanuel. Power. Shock. New Horizons. Thousands of angels in the sky. A song, a song, high above the tree with a voice as big as the sea!
Much more than epic guitars and drums crashing, our Artist brings about the most shocking twist of all: He will come down to the canvas with us. He will live among us. He will die for us. He will conquer. The Gospel is the ultimate masterpiece.
Do you hear what I hear?
This is what has happened. This is good news.
The Child, the Child,
Sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light.
He will bring us goodness and light.
I hope you are staggered by the wild truths of it all. I hope you are filled with childlike wonder at the majestic beauty of what He has done. May you be surprised all over again at the wonder and grace of Jesus.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. Want more content? Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.