Spreading Christmas Cheer

I was driving to the office yesterday morning, listening to K-Love Christian radio when I heard something I’d never heard about before. I thought they were joking at first, as morning radio folks are inclined to do, but then they replayed a segment from earlier in the morning and I realized what they were talking about was real. Later, I googled it and found out more details–and you know if it’s on the internet it’s true.

Here’s the deal: there’s a 24-hour telephone “hotline” called “Dial-A-Carol.” You can call it, any time the week of Dec. 10 through Dec. 16, and a live person will answer the phone. They’ll ask you what Christmas carol you want to hear, and if they know it, they’ll sing it for you live over the phone. I’m not making this up. It’s really a thing.
Dial-A-Carol is a student-run holiday program at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. It was started in 1960 by a university office secretary, and the residents of Snyder Hall on the Illinois campus who wanted to spread some holiday cheer. This is the 56th consecutive Christmas season that the students of Snyder Hall have hosted the program. Dial-A_Carol runs 24 hours a day for seven days and is held each year during finals week of the fall semester. Last year, students sang more than 6,800 carols to callers from all over the world.

The University’s housing webpage tells us, “This program is possible because of many volunteers who sacrifice their study time for finals in order to help us. We pride ourselves in being a community service program and enjoy many calls from children as well as university students, faculty members, and alumni.”

On the radio program I heard on Thursday, after the radio host made the request (“Holly Jolly Christmas”), the student who answered the phone in the residence hall rounded up three other students who were awake at that time of morning and they joined in and sang the song. (With great enthusiasm, I might add.) All the while, you could hear another group of students in the background serenading a different caller with a Christmas melody.

I don’t know what it is about music and the Christmas season that go together so well. Maybe it’s because, as Buddy the Elf reminded us, that “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” I think it may have something to do with that inaugural Christmas night, when the coming of the Christ-child was celebrated in song by the heavenly host of angels, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

We sing this time of year because there is “good news of great joy for all the people.” Our Savior has been born! O come let us adore Him. This Sunday night, we’re going to “repeat the sounding joy” as we celebrate Jesus Christ at The Church at Shelby Crossings with wonderful singing, from voices young and old. It promises to be a fun night, with some great music, and I sure hope you can be with us for this special time with our church family.

Oh, and if you still don’t get enough Christmas music, you can always call Dial-A-Carol. Their number is: (217) 332-1882.)
I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, morning and evening, at The Church at Shelby Crossings.

–Pastor Ken