Today, with a group of singers from Mattel Corp (the toy people), we sang at a Mattel Corporate function in El Segundo, California. The Mattel Singers is a group of people who meet from September through December, under my direction, singing at various charity functions around the L.A. area. Our program consists of holiday music of various kinds – Christian, secular stuff about Santa Claus, and a Hanukah song thrown in.
While I make no apology for my Christian beliefs, I try to keep the music balanced, to keep the Human Resources people happy (so they’ll keep letting me come back year after year). By the way, I should also throw in that the people in the group know I’m a pastor (currently on a break), many of them have visited my church, I’ve prayed with some of them, had deep conversations with some of them, and even led a Bible study at the Mattel Design Center for a few weeks to fill in for the guy who normally did it. So, the Christian thing isn’t a problem between them and me.
This year, there were several songs with a good Christian message – “Silent Night” openly declares Jesus as Lord, and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” says he’s “Heaven’s all-gracious King.” And again, for balance, we sang “The Man With the Bag,” a cool 1940’s jazz thing about Santa Claus. So far, so good.
Until a month or so ago, during rehearsal, when one of the singers asked if we could do “Oh Holy Night” this year. I like the song, but I have to admit I haven’t sung it a lot, so I said sure, without really thinking about it. I brought in copies of it the next week, with all the verses, and we got to work. That’s where the fun began.
Because – “Oh Holy Night” doesn’t just say Jesus is Lord – it says it in a big, loud, in-your-face, choral sort of way. The first chorus commands people to “fall on your knees.” The next chorus, after verse two, says “He knows our need… behold your king… before him lowly bend.” More of the “worship Jesus now” thing.
Finally, there’s another chorus which the group debated cutting out, but decided to leave in:
“Christ is the Lord… oh praise his name forever…. his power and glory evermore proclaim.”
I hate to admit it, but I got a little wimpy about it during rehearsals – I asked several times if it was a problem with the company to leave that chorus in, but nearly all the singers – many of whom are not Christians – said to leave it in. The others (one or two of them) didn’t care either way. Actually, maybe I wasn’t wimpy; after all, we had other strong Christian songs, as I mentioned before. I was just trying to keep a balanced program, which is what I’d been hired to do.
So anyway, we’ve been doing “Oh Holy Night” – at UCLA Children’s Hospital, at a children’s services center in Hawthorne, and finally, today, at the Corporate Headquarters in El Segundo. But here’s the fun part – the part where you realize God stepped in and worked, in spite of our discussions of the appropriateness of the words.
Today’s meeting was held at Mattel Headquarters in El Segundo (near the L.A. airport, for you readers not from around here). HOWEVER – the meeting was simultaneously broadcast to Mattel facilities in New York, Chicago, Dallas and someplace in India. People in all those places heard us sing “Christ is the Lord… oh praise his name forever… his power and glory evermore proclaim.”
(by the way, I need to add that a few weeks ago, Human Resources approved the lyrics)
I don’t know why it worked out the way it did. Maybe God isn’t as concerned about Human Resources as we are. Maybe he’s more secure with his role as Lord and King than we are about proclaiming it.
Or maybe he just has a good sense of humor.