We've all heard it and sung it. It has been translated into many different languages. It remains one of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world. And every time those familiar lyrics come to mind, our thoughts and our hearts always go to that mystic time of year: Christmas!

Interestingly however, there is no mention of anything Christmas related in the song! In fact, it wasn't written for Christmas at all! It was written and sung at the time of Thanksgiving in the US: End of November!

James Lord Pierpont, of Medford Massachusetts, USA, authored the song in 1850, with the title "One Horse Open Sleigh". It wasn't released until September 16, 1857, and the song was republished two years later with the title "Jingle Bells". According to the Medford historical society, the song was inspired by the town's popular sleigh races during the 1800s. In pre-car days, it was common in New England to place straps of bells on the harnesses of horses to help avoid collisions at blind intersections. The rhythm of the tune follows the hoof beats of a trotting horse's bells.

But wait. If Jingle Bells isn't even a Christmas song, what is it doing in the middle of a devotional about Christmas???

Good question. Let's look at the lyrics:

"Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

"Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh."


True enough, no mention of anything spiritual or Christmasy. But is there not something very spiritual in the idea behind these words?

Let's look!

The song presents a way to attain utmost happiness! All you have to do is go out in a one-horse open sleigh!

Now we know that simply going out in a sleigh doesn't bring ultimate happiness, yet that kind of carefree happiness is attainable! A tiny baby boy, born in a humble stable more than 2000 years ago, made it possible! That baby's name?

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isa 7:14-15 NKJV) and then, later: "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6 NKJV)

Okay, but what does this famous Messianic passage of Scripture have to do with the carefree idealistic world painted in Jingle Bells?

Let's look at the next verse of Isaiah 9 for the answer: "Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (Isa 9:7 NKJV)

That idealistic "Jingle Bells" world, friends, is prophesied in scripture! It is the world ruled by our Lord and Savior, the One Whose birth we celebrate at Christmas: Jesus Christ, Immanuel, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

Jingle Bells? You bet!

But do we have to wait until the end of the world, when Jesus returns in glory, to have this fairy-tale world?

Not according to Jesus: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30 NKJV)

Jesus is offering to take away our heavy burdens of care and worry! He's offering to exchange them for His "easy yoke", His "light burden"!

The next time you hear the crazy little tune, "Jingle Bells", remember, the Reason for the Season has come! He offers you this idealistic, fairy-tale world for free! Why not give it all to Him today?

But wait: Once we've achieved this "Jingle Bell" world, does it mean we never have troubles?

Our song of the day answers this question for us as well:

"A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot."


Just like these two sleigh-riders got into a bank of snow and had their sleigh overturned, sometimes it seems our ideal life in Jesus took a wrong turn somewhere! If Jesus came to give me abundant life, then why do I have all of these troubles???

Interestingly, the song doesn't go on to tell what happened to these two in the over-turned sleigh. It returns to the chorus, once again painting that ideal, picturesque world!

And it's no different in the life of the follower of Christ! God doesn't promise us a life free of problems! He promises that when we rest in Him, when we truly give Him our worries and let Him carry our burdens, we will get back to our joyous, reckless, carefree life in Him! All we have to do is keep looking to the One who made it all possible, that tiny Baby Whose birth we celebrate this day!

Jesus is our "Jingle Bells"! Jesus is the Reason for the Season! Halleluiah! Christ our Lord is born!

In His love,

Lyn


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the entire "Lessons From Christmas Carols" mini-series, please click here.)