THERE’S A SONG IN THE AIR!
Josiah G. Holland, 1819–1881
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God … (Luke 2:13)
What a beautiful scene is drawn for us in this joyful Christmas hymn! As we visualize once more the glorious chorus of angels, the brilliant star, and Mary watching over her babe in the lowly manger, we feel like joining the “heavenly throng” in their “tumult of joy” to greet our Savior and King!
Josiah G. Holland created one of the most thoughtful and thrilling of all the carols that we sing during this season. It is no wonder that the angels’ song rang out so jubilantly: They knew it was the King of heaven and earth they serenaded. How little did those who followed the brilliant light of the star realize that through the ages the whole earth would be illumined by Christ the Lord (Revelation 22:16). Like those who saw the star, we “rejoice in the light, and we echo the song …”
Born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, Josiah Gilbert Holland began his professional career as a medical doctor. But soon he became involved in writing and editorial work and eventually helped establish Scribner’s Magazine. “There’s a Song in the Air” first appeared in a Sunday school collection in 1874 and five years later in Holland’s Complete Poetical Writings. The present tune, “Christmas Song,” was composed for these words by Karl P. Harrington approximately 25 years later. The composer was a recognized church musician, serving in various Methodist churches as organist and choir director. He was also one of the musical editors for the Methodist Hymnal of 1905, when the present version of the carol first appeared.
There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky! There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry! And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth, for the Virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the earth. Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
In the light of that star lie the ages impearled, and that song from afar has swept over the world. Ev’ry hearth is aflame—and the beautiful sing in the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!
We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song that comes down thru the night from the heavenly throng. Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring, and we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!
For Today: Matthew 2:10; Luke 1:3, 68, 69; Luke 2:9–20, 29–32
Sing the words of this hymn with exuberance as though you were actually joining with the angels in their song that continues to ring—
Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 377–378). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.