Christmas music and song is everywhere. I listened in on VCY for a few minutes in the car yesterday. That’s about how long I can last on VCY America, but that is beside the point here. VCY carols run along the same lines as our Mennonite Christmas songs: carols with lyrics telling the story of Jesus birth and Salvation to a sinful world. This is what a good carol ought to do. Back in the day, at church, we sang the Christmas songs from the Christian Hymnal. There are about six or ten of them. Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark, the Harold Angels Sing, To Us a Child of Hope is Born, Oh, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, and Room for Thee are the songs we sang over and over at church for all the 20 years I attended, come Christmastime. At school we learned “new” Christmas songs, if we had an ambitious teacher; thus we learned: Silver Star, From Lands of the East, Drummer Boy, Fear Not Oh Ye Shepherds, and other children’s songs for Christmas. Little did I know that ours was a rather narrow repertoire of Christmas songs.
Then we attended Bible School. There we had a large group of young people who loved to sing together, so we tackled O Holy Night, and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Handel would have turned over in his grave at our rendition; but we loved it. It took a whole five minutes for us to get through it because Urie or was it, Dan, could NOT get us to speed it up. But guess what, when it is sung anywhere now; I can still sing along.
Then there is Schubert's Ave Maria thing. It has to be a Catholic favorite of all Christmas music. And people have been conditioned to thinking it belongs in the list. Frankly, I have my doubts. The lyrics are in Latin and have little meaning to most ordinary folks. That’s just my opinion. Another list of songs for Christmas include War Is Over, and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. These songs are sentimental songs surrounding the holiday more than the real meaning of Christmas. I still enjoy hearing them, now and then, because they are reminders of Peace and Goodwill. And of family gathering traditions. Then there are the songs like Do You Hear What I Hear and Welcome To Our World that retell the same old story from a more modern perspective. If you are singing Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, you have totally missed the point. Listen again to the lyrics of the carols this year.