Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday music

When I first started performing in quartets, in the 80s, and it came around to the holidays, I resisted singing carols. I felt scroogy about them, like I had put in enough time singing them as a kid, and didn't want to sing them just for sentiments' sake. I relented because of the income we could make by singing at the end of the year, at parties and so forth. But I always wanted to learn the secular holiday songs, White Christmas, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, etc.

As the years have passed, I have sung these songs so much that I have made a complete reversal. If I hear "may your days be merry and bright" one more time, I may gag on the cheesy sentiment. The songs I find myself longing to sing are the old hymns, "It came upon a Midnight Clear" and "What Child Is This" or "O Holy Night". The poetry in these songs is gorgeous, and the tunes are ancient and borrowed from older songs.

Last night I came up the driveway and gazed at the brilliant wash of stars in the crystalline sky. I could picture the angels leaning down very close.

It came upon a midnight clear
that glorious song of old
with angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good will toward men
The heavnly angels sing
The earth in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing