Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sing We Now of Christmas

Today is the fourth day of Christmas. Did you receive four calling birds? If not, you might want to consider just how true your “true love” is.

If you’re like me (admit it: you just said, “Not likely!), you were a grown human being before you learned that there really are twelve days of Christmas. For the first two decades of my life, I thought it was just one of the worst Christmas songs ever written.

It’s not the worst one, though, not by a long shot.

The worst Christmas song of all time is (with all due respect to the recently deceased and greatly lamented George Michael) “Last Christmas” by Wham!. Every time I hear it, I want to wham, bam, and slam the radio. The lyrics don’t make sense. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” Please. Everybody knows that you don’t give away a gift on the day after Christmas day. You go stand in a long customer service line to exchange it.

By the way, just in case you’re wondering, the second worst Christmas song of all time is “Step into Christmas” by Elton John. It makes me want to step away from Christmas, and from whatever device is inflicting that silly song on me. 

The third worst Christmas song—and it really pains me to say this, because I respect him so much—is “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney. Luckily, “horrible” has the same number of syllables as “wonderful,” so I can sing it in a way that fits the mood it puts me in.

(I should note that I recently read two articles that explained why “Last Christmas” and “Wonderful Christmas Time” are great Christmas songs. The authors know much more about such things than I do. They’re also wrong.)

I like all of the church’s Christmas songs. I do think one of them is misleading, though. I mean, think about it. “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes; but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” Come on, tell the truth. We should sing, “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes; and little Lord Jesus screams his little head off until he gets changed and fed, because he was a real baby, and that’s what real babies do.”

Besides, he’s in a stable. With smelly animals. I’m telling you, he made some crying.

But enough with the negativity. Let me tell you about my favorite Christmas song: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words during the War Between the States. They speak to my spirit every year.

It begins,

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

This Christmas, I confess to spending considerable time giving in to the mood of the next-to-last stanza:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

But I also affirm that I believe in the affirmation of the final verse:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Let it be, dear Lord. Let it be …

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