A couple of years ago I was given a present which is dear to me:
A wooden model church of Seiffen with carollers in front of it. The gift touched my heart as it reminded me of my child-hood: I remember I stood there dressed in a black coat with a white collar, enthusiastically singing the old German Christmas carol Alle Jahre wieder (Every year, again and again, ...). Carol-singing goes back to the late Middle Ages. Even Martin Luther was a caroller! The German phrase is Kurrende, which says as much as those who walk around. In the old days, children went round their home places to bring people comfort and joy. They did so in Advent and at Christmas as well as at christening and wedding ceremonies, and at funerals.
For long, carol-singing has been something very special here in Seiffen. Toy-makers have come out with wooden Kurrende articles, which has made the tradition well-known all over the world. Being a member of the Seiffen Kurrende is seen as a great honour. At the same time, of course, it means members are very busy, especially in Advent: They sing at five Advent concerts in our church, after which they go round to take the Christmas message to every Seiffen home. They are also part of four Advent morning services and on Christmas Eve, they join our traditional lantern parade. In addition, they stage concerts in our Christmas market. What we should not forget: Their number-one daily activity is school! Anyway, dear boys and girls, you are there, in any weather. Thank you so much. I think what you do is very important. Jesus himself told us to do it: Go to all the world and tell people of me. You, dear carollers, do so. In a sense, all of us should be carollers throughout our lives: Take the light of Christmas to all people even if they have not yet understood the message, or every detail of it.
And now let me address all grown-ups: Having sung in Kurrende is what determines the singers’ lives. I know of many elderly people who confess they were Kurrende singers. They will never forget the carols they sung then as they bear them in their hearts.
I wonder whether the problems we face in educating the young generation raise, to a larger degree, from the fact our children do not sing very often. I do not doubt that where children are Kurrende singers, they nearly automatically learn the social skills necessary to be part of a group and to take responsibility. No particular pseudo-pedagogical studies, no extra training in what is known as the values of our society are necessary to understand that. We all know that children who often sing make better progress in mathematics and the languages. We all should take this into serious consideration, both in the churches and in society as a whole.
Above all, what happens in singing is expressed in Psalm 78: What we have heard and come to know and what our fathers told us we will not hide from our children. We proclaim the fame of the Lord and his might and the miracles he did. It is immensely important that we, as parents and grandparents, pass on our faith to our children and grandchildren. There is hardly a more intensive way of doing so than singing with them. With our Advent concerts, we would like to encourage you. Let us enjoy the melodies and harmonies and let us merrily take them further afield.