The Middle East’s Favorite Christmas Carol Is About War and Hate - Living Strong Television Network
The Middle East’s Favorite Christmas Carol Is About War and Hate

Traditional melody suggests it is only when Christians realize the holiday comes with “hard realities” that the spirit of Nativity dwells in their hearts.

This past holiday season—like many before it—the Arab world’s favorite Christmas carol spoke directly to war and suffering.

With Orthodox Christians observing their 12 days of Christmastide from January 7–19, their churches in the Middle East were the latest to sing “Laylat al-Milad” (On Christmas Night). Written in the 1980s during Lebanon’s civil war, the song has been performed by classical divas, worship leaders, and children’s choirs alike. It has offered comfort during the regional conflicts since, from the Syrian civil war to ISIS’s reign of terror to the current war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Its haunting melody and lyrics speak less about a baby in a manger than the life that baby demands that we live. And also of the life that baby makes possible:

Chorus:
On Christmas night, hatred vanishes
On Christmas night, the earth blooms
On Christmas night, war is buried
On Christmas night, love is born

Verse 1:
When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person, we are in Christmas
When we clothe a naked person with a gown of love, we are in Christmas
When we wipe the tears from weeping eyes, we are in Christmas
When we cushion a hopeless heart with love, we are in Christmas

Verse 2:
When I kiss a friend without hypocrisy, I am in Christmas
When the spirit of revenge dies in me, I am in Christmas
When hardness is gone from my heart, I am in Christmas
When my soul melts in the being of God, I am in Christmas

The Christmas season in the Middle East can be a double blessing. Advent begins one month before the Catholic and Protestant holiday on December 25, while festivities continue weeks further until the Orthodox celebration on January 7 and its Epiphany …

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