Thursday, December 05, 2002

Singing Christmas

I have a dilemma.

I have to chose a Christmas song to sing for my ward Christmas party in a week and a half.

Now, I’ve written two, but they don’t want rock and roll, so that leaves those out. I don’t have any commercial minus tracks, and I don’t really have time to produce any.

But I might be able to borrow one or to get someone to accompany me.

So, the question is… What is my favorite Christmas song?

Well, when I think of Christmas music, at our house growing up, it was Handel’s Messiah. I ain’t even gonna attempt that one.

I’m not into the saccharine schmaltz that you hear on FM 100 (“Continuous Soft Hits and other musical sleeping pills”), and I think I prefer the religious songs to the “Santa Claus is Comin’ to town” tunes.

One of my all-time favorites has always been “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, because it’s all about affirming that even though the world is a violent and ugly place, It’s still worth saving, and that’s why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep”.

Another one I like is the famous “Angels We Have Heard on High”. I just love singing the polyphony in the chorus. It’s also the only hymn in our book that has Latin in it. Somehow that snuck by the brethren…

Speaking of polyphony, “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” is another one. Same sentiment in the chorus, but in a language we can all understand. This one’s got a beat, too. It’s one of those tunes that rouses you up on a Sunday morning.

But then, there are the beautiful Christmas hymns, like “Silent Night”. I love this one. It took me a long time to understand the line about “Round yon virgin” because of the old poetic phrasing. If you read it like prose, it makes perfect sense. “All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother, and child.” But the musical phrasing breaks it up.

This song is so beautiful musically, that even when the singers scoop the “Sleep in heavenly pe-e-e-e-ace”, it’s still ok. I like it better when they don’t but… still…

So, what’m I gonna do?


Decisions, decisions…

Mark Hansen

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