Why "This Is War" Is My Favorite Christmas Tune
I had a particular fascination with the band Thrice in high school. They certainly filled quite the spot in the emo/screamo world, but seemed to push a different set of boundaries than most other bands (anyone out there ever listen to Vendetta Red? They just enjoyed eating boundaries for breakfast, I think). Dustin Kensrue, songwriter and front man, would often incorporate Christian themes or even explicit references to Scripture in his music, and it made for a very engaging listen.
In 2008, Kensrue released a solo album of Christmas songs. On the whole, it's fantastic. Nestled in between more traditional tunes is a work of his own making. It is punctuated by bellowing power chords and emphatic drums and cymbals, which aren't typically associated with Christmas (unless you're a fan of Manheim, I guess). While the atmosphere is a plus, it's the lyrics that do it for me.
"This is war like you ain't seen,
this winter's long, it's cold and mean.
With hangdog hearts we stood condemned,
but the tide turns now at Bethlehem.
This is war, and born tonight
the Word as flesh, the Lord of light.
The Son of God, the lowborn King,
who demons fear, of whom angels sing.
This is war on sin and death,
the dark will take its final breath.
It shakes the earth, confounds all plans,
the mystery of God as man."
At the time I first listened to it, I'd never heard a Christmas song quite like it. And I haven't since.
It's a triumphant declaration to the prince of the power of the air that his reign is ended, that the true King has come. The last verse is gorgeous. The mystery and magnificence of God incarnate is confounding, but it is in this that our hope lies. Our great and glorious God, after disarming the rulers and authorities, triumphed over them in Him: the Word as flesh and Lord of light.