Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shuffle the Deck

Do you ever re-read a book or watch a movie for the tenth time (say, The Sound of Music) and find yourself surprised to notice something you never saw previously, despite the work's familarity? Christmas music can be like that. Perhaps you traveled this year and you're arrested by a reference to Christ as the Desire of nations... Or you served your country in Iraq, and "peace on earth, goodwill to men" rings in your ears with new force. Maybe you're involuntarily childless and you appreciate "For unto us a Son is given..."

Put on some Christmas music and pay attention to the words. Appreciate the organization of Scripture in Handel's "Messiah." Discern the message in "The Holly and the Ivy." Or figure out for the first time the point in the one about the good king who stepped out on the Feast of Stephen. Perhaps you've sung the first verse of something and never actually understood it, so it's both familiar and unfamiliar. Start by considering the lyrics to "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming":

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Listen anew, ponder anew. And when something strikes you with new force, sing it out. Own it. Make it your own. Then offer it up.

In case you're wondering what is behind this exercise, here's the scoop.


Schweers' Mom said...

I have never read the words to that song. Beautiful! Thanks for posting them.

Erin said...

Oh, The Holly and The Ivy! We sang that in show choir when I was in high school. :)

Have you noticed that most recording artists choose to record the same handful of Christmas carols over and over again? I would be very interested to find some recordings of these lesser-sung hymns and carols. (And you've chosen beautiful, deep lyrics, San.)

To iTunes I go.

greta lynn hernandez said...

So true!

I posted at

for those who are interested!

Still pondering the five they don't really show up in the post. I'd like to write my own Christmas's getting there!

Erin said...

We just posted our Singing "card" over at Paper Lanterns.