Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas has become a season of increasing frustration for me. It's taken me a number of years to appreciate precisely what was my favourite aspect of the celebrations and in the famous words of Joni Mitchell: "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Christmas used to be the only time of the year you could walk into a shopping mall or a grocery store and encounter truly sublime music. No longer. It's now interminable, tacky, overwrought Christmas pop. I swear, if I have to hear "Rock Around the Christmas Tree" one more time, I will scream. (That one is kind of cute, but one listen per annum is plenty.)

So as a public service, I am going to post a series of Christmas music videos, part of the playlist I've been compiling to console myself in the absence of my Christmas CD's which are far, far away. Warning: my tastes are eclectic, but all of these will share the characteristic of being explicitly religious. You don't have to be religious to enjoy them though. I like music that stands on its own. If you don't like today's offering, come back for tomorrow's. It will be something quite different.

Christmas at BaylorWe're starting off with a small a cappella choir singing "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" and "The Blessed Son of God." The first is from a beautiful old German hymn that is almost never done by pop singers, because the intricate interplay of voices is part of its charm. I guarantee you haven't heard this one ad nauseum in the shopping centres. More's the pity. I could hear this one many, many times before nausea set in.

From the "Christmas at Baylor" DVD.

In passing, if you like choral music, try to take in university concert choirs. There's nothing like a choir made up almost entirely of music majors.

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Janna Qualman said...

Oh Janet, goosebumps! Hearing this choir makes me miss my singing days. We even sang the first song, "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." Just gorgeous!

Janet said...


Jared said...

Beautiful! My wife will be singing this on Friday, as part of a small group in our church choir.

We're singing portions of Bach's 'Magnificat', which is fantastic, but also 'Away in a Manger', which makes me cry. The third verse gets me every time.

Janet said...

Jared, do you find that becoming a father made you more sentimental? I know parenthood contributed a lot to my ability to tear up.

Jared said...

I've always been sentimental (e.g., poetry minor), and have always liked kids. Becoming a father has tempered neither tendency.

This is the first time I can recall this song having such an effect on me.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, / I ask Thee to stay / close by me forever / and love me I pray.

I pray, as a sing, that my son can experience such certainty and comfort, where I did not. Especially when he's having a rough year at school, and his mother and I are there for him less than we should be.

That said, even Hallmark commercials make me cry.

Janet said...

Everything makes me cry now, it's terrible.

It is a great gift you are giving your son. When a child grows up certain of God's love, even if they run hard in the other direction, when they hit a wall, they know where to go. I am speaking from personal experience.


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