If you listen closely around this time of year, you can almost always hear faint jingle bells or distant strains of Irving Berlin. There’s just something about music that creates atmosphere, stirs emotion, and teaches deep truths in a way that nothing else can. Some of our authors are on the blog today to share how these songs have been a part of their Christmases.
Hands down, Handel’s Messiah has always been an important part of my Christmas celebration and memories. I was born into a musical family, so music was always important, but there was something about Handel’s music set to Scripture that touched me deep inside. We had a local church that would have a community singalong of Handel’s Messiah each Christmas, and there were a couple of occasions that my mother and I attended. It was an amazing time, and though most of us weren’t trained vocalists, it was some of the most beautiful music I’ve even known…and a wondrous time of worship.
I have a weakness for Christmas carols. I’ve been known to sing them at the top of my lungs while hiking (alone!) at just about any time of year. I have favorites—”The Cherry Tree Carol,” “I Wonder as I Wander,” “The Ballad of the Christmas Donkey”—but my VERY favorite is “Up on the Rooftop.” When we were kids, Dad would lead us in sing-alongs whenever we traveled around Christmas, and he’d make up verses for each of us. Something like: “Here comes the stocking of little Sally (his pet name for me), oh dear Santa what a tally, give her a dress that whirls and twirls, and then you can give her hair some curls.” We’d beg for verse after verse, throwing out the names of family, friends, and made-up acquaintances. And Dad always came through with a rhyme.
My favorite Christmas song is Downhere’s “How Many Kings,” and if I’m playing a Christmas album it’s likely to be this one. I’ve always been fascinated by the Wise Men, which may be part of the reason why I wanted to start a new tradition with my family and start celebrating Epiphany since the Christmas season has morphed into nothing much more than a get-together with presents. I also think the reason why I love this song is that it goes beyond the wise men to sing of the ultimate romance—a divine King’s love for the undeserving.
And, finally, a song recommended by one of our readers in last Thursday’s blog post, “Carol of the Bells.” (This is one of my favorite versions.)
Do you attend a special musical event around Christmas? If so, what is it?