Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Music when Christmas is hard

There have been times in my life when I felt as if I were living and moving in a thick, muffled fog–when my heart couldn’t see or hear anything clearly, if at all. I can look back on a few of those times and know the exact moment when a glimmer of light broke through. It happened with music. I don’t know how music which enters through the ears can shine a beam of light into the heart. It doesn’t work metaphorically or physically, but that’s what happened.

Today, I’ve been collecting things I’ve read from people writing about their Christmas celebrations when it’s hard to celebrate. I was struck by the role music plays or has played for some of them.

Need some Theology with that Hymn, M’am?, by Carrie Zeman

Drive-by Caroling, by Julie Martindale

Christmas Joy, by Joni Eareckson Tada

Request for you: Please share with us music that speaks especially to your heart at Christmas.


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7 Responses to “Music when Christmas is hard”

  1. Last year I really got into Annie Lennox’s Christmas Cornucopia album. It has a lot of old English carols, which I love. Backing her up is The African Children’s choir, which really touches my heart. Anyway, she covers the song In the Bleak Midwinter and this is the line that makes my eyes shine with tears:

    Our God
    Heaven cannot hold Him,
    Nor earth sustain,
    Heaven and earth will flee away
    When He comes to reign.

    It’s amazing to hear the childrens choir (many of whom have been orphaned by HIV) in the background as these lyrics are sung.

  2. There is a verse in this children’s song, which I sang as a 4 year old in my first nativity whilst my father was away in the first Gulf war. All these years later the words have become strangely pionient:

    Little donkey, little donkey
    On the dusty road
    Got to keep on plodding onwards
    With your precious load.

    Been a long time, little donkey
    Through the winter’s night
    Don’t give up now, little donkey
    Bethlehem’s in sight.

    Do not falter, little donkey
    There’s a star ahead
    It will guide you, little donkey
    To a cattle shed.

    My father died at Christmas when I was 12, so it hasn’t been an easy season since then. advent has made it easier for me, focussing on Jesus’ return when Gid will wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

  3. Thank you for the link, Noel. The hymn on my heart today is “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” which takes me back to a single note from a pitch pipe and candle-lit processions in the Bethel choir:

    Of the Father’s love begotten
    Ere the worlds began to be,
    He is Alpha and Omega,
    He the Source, the Ending He,
    Of the things that are, that have been,
    And that future years shall see
    Evermore and evermore.

    O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
    Angel hosts, His praises sing;
    Powers, dominions, bow before Him
    And extol our God and King.
    Let no tongue on earth be silent,
    Every voice in concert ring
    Evermore and evermore.

    Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
    And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
    Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
    And unending praises be,
    Honor, glory, and dominion,
    And eternal victory
    Evermore and evermore!

    • We sang Of the Father’s Love Begotten a couple of nights ago during our family devotions time. Tonight I glimpsed it across from the one we sang tonight on the same page of our Christmas Songs family printout and thought immediately, “This is surely one of Carrie’s songs for this season.”

  4. Thank you for this post! Christmas was hard for me last year. It’s so easy to loose the joy of Christ when circumstances are overwhelming. But God used one verse of a classic song, “Joy to the World,” to show me that focusing on his first coming and his future advent is the only thing that will conquer my discouragement.

    No more shall sin and sorrow reign,
    Nor thorns infest the ground.
    He comes to make his blessing known
    Far as the curse is found.

    I actually just wrote a blog post about how that circumstance last year has changed my focus this year to one of seeking to know God better and celebrating his coming.

  5. I’ve had Christmas seasons when going through trials when I had to remind myself to breath (or so it seemed) I know it sounds odd but on one such Christmas, it was the secular old standards like Bing Crosby that helped me feel better. There is just something about White Christmas… :)

    However, this year I’ve been just a little down. It is the first Christmas neither of our children will be here so it will be just my husband and I.

    I’ve been reading some wonderful novels by Elizabeth Goudge this year (a British author who writes from a Christian perspective) and I’ve found great help from the old songs of the English season.

    I have one CD in particular, purchased at Goodwill of all places. It is our local Bach Chorale chorus singing the “Lessons and Carols” from the Anglican church. I’m an Evangelical and didn’t realize just how beautiful the music is… lovely.

  6. Can’t beat Handel’s Messiah

    and I also love Andrew Peterson – Behold the Lamb of God

    and actually anything that highlights that image – Lamb of God

    I love most – Of the Father’s love begotten, Lo ere a rose, AND mostest of all :o) – Jesu joy of man’s desiring!!!

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