It was October of 1962. NFL legend Jerry Rice, boxer Evander Holyfield, and American drummer Tommy Lee were born while Johnny Carson hosted his first “The Tonight Show” and “The Lucy Show” premiered. However, it was also this month that the Cuban Missile Crisis was announced. On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy addressed TV about Russian missile bases in Cuba and imposed a naval blockade on Cuba.
It was with this backdrop and because of the crisis that Noël Regney (lyrics) and Gloria Shayne (music) wrote “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace. They hoped their song would distract people from the turmoil to the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding the traditional Christmas story.
Said the night wind to the little lamb:
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite”
It had to be an amazing sight. Can you imagine laying on a grassy hillside staring into the sky and seeing this star take center stage? It could have been such a sight where people asked, “Do you remember where you were ‘December 25th’ when that star lit up the night?”
The carol has the little lamb talk to the shepherd boy and the shepherd boy talk to the mighty king. We know that angels went out of their way to appear to the shepherds to invite them to the greatest birthday party ever. Also, we know that it was not the shepherds who told the king where the real King would be born. However, I bet a lot of the shepherd boys knew that it would be Bethlehem as they had been told of Micah 5:2.
Finally, the famous carol closes:
Said the king to the people everywhere:
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light”
It is so important to think while we sing. King Herod did not say those words. He had his own form of missile launching as he ordered the killing of the baby boys.
However, with all that said, please do realize that Jesus is the One who brought and brings “goodness and light.” Did you catch the middle of the stanza? They remind us to “pray for peace.” That is a good reminder. Our country was in a crisis in 1962, has been often since then, and will be again. Yet, this season enjoy the lights and remember that Jesus came to earth bringing the opportunity for peace, goodness, light, and hope.