Christmas carols and theology

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I love Christmas, and to be a pastor at this time of year, is a tremendous gift from God. My stewards were worrying about me for on Sunday we have two services, a church potluck and a wedding. I am psyched for the energy of Christ is upon us. I love singing Christmas carols, each carol has a theological message. What is your favorite Carol. Mine is the "First Noel" NOEL, NOEL BORN IS THE KING OF ISRAEL.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

Answers

Great Question!! I have many but one carol I particularly enjoy is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".......Oh, oh tidings of comfort and joy! Now my favorite "secular" Christmas song is Donnie Hathaway's classic, "This Christmas". Man, that brother could sing!! Kinda reminds me of a retired crooner who occassionally posts on this BB :-) QED

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

Donnie Hathaway, wow! Bill talk about going "back in the day!" that song brings back memories. That is a great song. Thanks for the reminder.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

Most of these are too beautiful to choose a favorite. Over the years I simply find myself gravitating to the one which speaks to my situation and circumstances at that time. As a youngster I certainly loved the pageantry of "The First Nowell", but I equally loved, "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Angels We Have Heard On High". As I grew older my favorites became those like "Joy to World" and "Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne".

However since you are going to make me choose one in particular, at the present time my choice is "O Little Town of Bethlehem" in its original tune, "Forest Green"(Common Meter - Doubled).

"How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given; So God imparts to human hearts The blessing of His heav'n. No ear may hear His coming; But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him still The dear Christ enters in!

O holy child of Bethlehem, Decend to us we pray, Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today, We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tiding tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

PS: In my many years of teaching this question always arose when I programmed various carols. So, before someone sends me a question or a comment. "The First Nowell" is an English carol, which somehow we have managed to change to a similar French word and spelling--Noel-- which means Christmas.

In modern times, this has even occurred in many dictionaries, hymnals and carol books. However, the English 17th century term "Nowell" more appropriately meant Glad Tidings or Good Cheer and the English version is always written as Nowell. This carol is really an excellent processional for both Christmas and Epiphany. The "Forest Green" tune is also an excellent Christmas Processional.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001


Oh, how I love the hymns of the church. As a child, we learned "O little town of Bethleham", "Away in a Manager", "Silent Night", and of course others. Therefore, it's hard to pick just one carol, but "O little town of Bethleham" may be my favorite. Brother Matthews just made me want to rush home and see if I can 'pick' out that meter (smile).

As a lover of music and a singer, as well, I'm just happy to sing any carol(s) the choir selects. This year, I've been asked to do the spiritual, "Sweet Little Jesus Boy", we're praising God for the pouring out His spirit upon the vessel and the recipients.

I've a message from the Lord, Hallelujah! The message unto you I'll give -- THE KING IS COMING TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SIN.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!!!

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2001


Bill,

Why did you have to bring up my boy Donny?  Remembering songs like "Back Together"  with Roberta Flack and This Christmas conjures up bittersweet memories (his suicide).  BTW, I agree the brother could blow!  Since I'm in the neighborhood, let me throw in a couple personal favorites:

Feliz Navidad,



-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001


Now there you go Chuck talking about my homie Roberta Flack!! Singer, songwriter, accomplished pianist, she was in the words of our young folks, "da bomb". If you can listen to her version of "Rev. Lee". You will be hoarse from laughter after listening to Ms. Flack's musical sermonette. Roberta & Donnie were a tremendous duet. Were they better than Marvin Gaye & Tammie Terrell (another tragic loss of life), Peaches & Herb or Ashford & Simpson?? Roberta was a faculty member @ Howard Univ. in the music department when I was a "young whippersnapper" in DC. When she and her fellow faculty colleague Donald Byrd decided to turn professional the music industry greatly benefitted. It would be great if all of those classic Christmas songs by Nat King COle, Temptations, etc could be avialable on one CD. QED

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001

These are great memories of Roberta Flack, Rev. Lee was the song that everyone talked about when it came out. I would have to say Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terril were my favorite duo. I also loved the Motown Christmas carols.

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2001

Don't forget Johnny Mathis's timeless rendition of "Oh, Holy Night"!! QED

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

o.k Bill we cannot mention anymore great songs because I want to run out and buy everything you mentioned. Did anyone hear a great version of the Messiah this year. Merry Christmas.

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

Hmmm, this thread has wandered into so many interesting directions!

-- Anonymous, December 26, 2001


Jerryl,

My source for "Forest Green" is the "Oxford Book of Carols". However, this tune is found in many denominational hymnals which probably include the United Methodist, Baptist, United Church of Christ and certainly the Episcopal Church. It may or nay not be associated with the carol, " Little Town of Bethlehem", since today we most often hear the tune "Saint Louis". But, you of course know how to transcribe words to music. The tune can also be found in many of the online cyber hymnals. You may know it as, "All Beautiful the March of Days."

Secondly, you struck a major chord with me in calling up the Baroque Classics. Having been trained in Classical Music, I find nothing more thrilling than Handel's Messiah, Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the Christmas Oratorio of Saint-Saens.

Something I have not shared with this BB, however, is that right now all of these are difficult for me to hear since I got a cochlear implant just over a year ago. But with good singing and training myself to adjust, I am able to follow a lot more closely now. I must also add that God is good and He too is bringing me the victory.

Finally, as I more fully contemplated this question of favorite Christmas music. I found myself singing some old popular tunes like "Silver Bells". But the lyrics, which stood out most, were these from a period of writers, which I most dearly love.

This one is for you Reverend Rogers.

The sun is shining, The grass is green; The orange and palm trees sway; There's never been such a day, In Beverly Hills, L. A. But, it's December the Twenty-fourth, And I am longing to be up north.

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas.......etc....

-- Anonymous, December 26, 2001


My brother Robert I will pray for continued improvement of your hearing and I ask others on the board to join me. I too love classical music, and it is a new love for me. It is ironic, but when I was a child in Cleveland, Ohio we were forced to go and listen to the Cleveland Orchestra, I of course was upset that it was not the Supremes. My daughter loves opera and having her influence in the house is great. And I have lived in Montana so long, I even like country music. (My daughter is not thrilled about that) this is off topic but do you have some favorite classical CD's you can recommend?

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2001

As I stated earlier, my celebration of Christmas will continue through January 6 as the Western Christian Church has designated it ought to be. Also, as I stated, these carols are too lovely to choose just one.

Another favorite is the Huron Carol written by Saint Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the French canadian/ Huron Indians in their language and latter translated into English. This carol is hauntingly beautiful, is pentatonic, and the rhythm give you the sense of head dress and tom toms. There is a Church translation available which substitutes the words "Gitchi Manitou" with a more acceptable Christian term. Also this makes an excellent processional and is most effective when sung in Solemn Processional ,unaccompanied style or simply with drums and finger symbols.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2001


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