Do you hear what I hear?

Ahhh…’tis the season for marvelous music my friends!  Even in the midst of more pandemic, this time of year is gratefully filled with beloved sounds, carols, voices, instruments, and glorious music ushering in the message and season of celebration.

While talking and laughing with my sis yesterday, she was sharing her intense prep work with her singers–several at the Met, vocal students doing juries, recitals, performances, and more. I reminded her of her very first singing experience (see the picture) at age 3 as a member in The Cherub Choir at Kessler Park United Methodist Church.  Mom literally coaxed her (tears and all) to “boldly and courageously march in the cherub line, stand still, open your mouth, and proudly sing for all to hear!”  Gratefully, she accepted mom’s initial challenge that first time and successfully continues to do so beautifully on a much grander scale for many decades…

We both share a deep and abiding love for all types of music, including Christmas music, and especially carols. When pressed for specifics, two personal favorites come to mind. The first choice is one our grandmother sang often, a French carol called The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir…

The second carol is one we sing frequently in church (and often on a hiking trail).  Gustav Holst composed the music in 1906, set to Christina Rossetti’s beautiful 1872 poem, In The Bleak Midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter, long ago… (there are two more verses and this final one)

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him; give Him my heart.

Both of these pieces hold deep and personal meaning, but are only two of a long list of favorites. What are your personal favorite Christmas carols/songs to hear, play, and sing during the season? Here’s hoping you experience many extraordinarily beautiful seasonal sounds however you celebrate this time. As you prep and celebrate, please find gentle ways to care for yourself as you care for others, my friends…