Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Music

I feel especially Scroogian, as far as my blog is concerned, because my sister has been cranking out awesome Christmas posts daily this month on her blog, and I haven't had anything remotely Christmas related here yet. Plus, her most recent post about Christmas music kind of stole my one idea of what I wanted to do. So I'll just offer up my belated and derivative thoughts on one of the main reasons this season is so awesome: the music.

I was struck again by the power of music in bearing testimony of Christ during my BYU ward's Christmas program two Sundays ago. In particular, two girls I know sang a beautiful duet of "What Child is This?" I don't think I'd ever heard (or maybe just never paid attention) to more than the first verse, which is pretty normal stuff about Christ being born in a manger. The second verse, however, jumped out at me:

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

I hadn't ever realized how scriptural the imagery was in this song. I love the words describing the Word being made flesh, and then that flesh being pierced for us all. Just beautiful. And, as Eugene England said in his great essay Easter Weekend, a spiritual song is most beautiful when performed by those who have a testimony of the Savior about whom they sing, and these girls definitely did.

While I'm at it, I'll just throw out there another phrase that I've always found interesting in the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," namely "The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight." The hope and faith of millions of people--both past and future--came head to head with their fears in that night, and it was the beginning of the triumph of the former.

So enjoy the many many wonderful Christmas carols to be heard at this time of year (but let's retire those past their prime). There is truly a lot to be thankful and hopeful for during this season. What are the most meaningful Christmas songs for you?

p.s. I think we hear a lot about carols that people find annoying or overdone, but I'd like to nominate "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" as the most underappreciated Christmas song. Any others you'd like to see sung more often?


  1. Your thoughts are neither "Scroogian," derivative, nor belated! I loved this post, thanks for sharing. While I don't really carry a torch for the Jeanette Isabella song, I generally think "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" is underappreciated.

  2. Dude, my boyfriend loves Sissel and plays her stuff all of the time. She sang with MoTab and now he's hooked for life. Her songs are beautiful.

    My favorite unappreciated carol? Once in Royal David's City.

    Song I wish would no longer be part of the Christmas Classics Collection? Joy to the World- it is a very nice song. It is just NOT about Christmas. It is about the Second Coming. There...I said it.

  3. I know nothing about Sissel except that I found her version of What Child is This and loved it. I'll have to check out more of her stuff, and this makes me tentatively approve of your boyfriend (because I know you were aching to hear about my stamp of approval).

    I concur about Once in Royal David's City, and as for Joy to the World, the pre-Mormon-co-opted version is more Christmasy than millenial, though I think it's still possible to interpret it either way. Let me know if that changes your thoughts?