Jennifer Wake shares how holiday traditions use music to teach us the foundations of our faith in the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany.
Holiday Traditions: Music for Epiphany
by Jennifer Wake
Teaching our kids about God and our faith is vital. Moving every few years can make it challenging to keep kids consistently involved in a church program. We love to use traditions to help remind us of God and His love for us.
Making a Joyful Noise
My kids always got excited hearing cadences when my husband’s units ran by in their formation. Although I couldn’t sing well, I used songs to help my kids learn many things–the alphabet, the days of the week, and the months of the year. But most importantly, I used songs to teach them Bible stories. It worked for them, even when I sang along, usually offkey. We sang while driving to school and back home, going to and from church, and when we went to visit people. Songs in the car were a staple every day.
Although I grew up attending church, I never learned the books of the Bible. When my kids went to AWANA at a local church, I had to learn to name all the books. Guess what I turned to…a song. We all learned the books of the New Testament, then the books of the Old Testament. In fact, to this day, I still sing those songs to find books.
Although I am not a singer, God uses songs to remind me of essential facts and traditions!
The Bible contains different symbols and stories that remind us of the foundation of our beliefs. Before the Bible became standard in most believers’ houses, parents would teach their children about their faith through songs and stories. One song used to help children learn facts about the Christian faith is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This song starts on the day after Christmas Day.
“On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”
A Partridge in a Pear Tree represents Jesus and the tree on which he died. Two Turtledoves represent the two parts of the Bible–the Old and New Testaments. Doves are also used to remind us of God’s love for us. Three French Hens represent Faith, Hope, and Love on the third day. They also remind us of the Trinity.
The fourth day is four calling Birds. They remind us of the four Gospels calling out God’s love for us. The fifth day is five gold rings. It represents the first five books of the Old Testament which are called the Torah. This verse is held during the song, which helps us remember that these books are the Bible’s foundation. Six geese a-laying on day six remind us of the six days God worked in the creation story.
Seven swans a-swimming on day seven remind us of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion. On the eighth day, we sing about eight maids-a-milking. Maids who did the milking were servants of the people who owned the livestock. These remind us of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12. On the ninth day are nine ladies dancing. This represented the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The tenth day brings ten lords a-leaping, which reminds us of the Ten Commandments. Eleven pipers piping remind us that after Judas betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, only 11 of the original 12 Apostles remained. We learn later, however, that those 11 called Matthais to join them to maintain the representation of the 12 Tribes of Israel. The last day is twelve drummers drumming. There are twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed which says
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Look at the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed. We see the Trinity and learn of Christ’s suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection. We understand that we are part of the universal Church of believers and the forgiveness of sins, resurrection, and eternal life.
Foundations of Faith
This song reminds us of the foundation of our faith.
The Christmas season doesn’t end on Christmas Day.
It continues until January 6th which is Epiphany!
Be sure to check out our Advent Playlist on YouTube!
If you want to learn more about Advent check out our explanation of the five candles that represent Hope, Faith, Joy, Love, and Christ.