Music: vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
When something becomes habit / second nature / monotony / same ol’ same ol’, it can very easily become something you forget to find beauty in. This is music for me. Music has been a love / hate thing for most of my life.
On the one hand I adore the beautiful intricacies of melodic combinations. As a songwriter I live for this discovery – to find unique ways to express thought and emotion through melody. But on the other hand, listening to music without analyzing it is something I just can’t seem to do. No matter how hard I try, I can’t turn off the part of my brain that is fascinated by chord progressions and instrumental arrangement.
Could this same thing not be said about Christmas carols?
How many times have you heard Jingle Bells?
How many times have you sung Away in a Manger?
How many times have you groaned over having to participate in The 12 Days of Christmas… in its entirety? Lol.
Carols become habit / second nature / monotony / same ol’ same ol’, because it’s expected they accompany the season. Who wants to shop for Christmas presents while listening to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow?” Therefore, we “listen” without really listening. We “enjoy” without really enjoying. And we sing without giving any thought to the words we are actually singing, never mind stopping long enough to allow our hearts to be touched and affected by the emotion music can evoke.
I’ll be the first to admit I am extremely guilty of this.
But here’s a thought.
What if we stopped to think about the words we are singing?
What if we stopped to ponder the applicability to our lives?
What if we stopped to appreciate the rich heritage of carols and how, without them, our Christmases just wouldn’t be the same?
This happened for me last week when my youngest son asked if he could sing Jingle Bells to a group of seniors where I was hosting my piano recital (which I wrote about here in, A Time Of Hope).
Like only the spirit of Christmas can do, I was thoroughly overwhelmed with a wave of beautiful emotion because I heard the words of this famous song through the mouth of a child. More so, I got to witness and experience the sheer joy music can bring when people let down their guards, throw away inhibitions, participate together in the spirit of Christmas, and join hearts through song.
Side note: This is my favourite version of Jingle Bells to date. Why? Because it’s loud. It’s out of key. It’s off time. It’s unscripted. It’s all about fun, love and joy. And it’s exactly the look of what Christmas community should be.
Christmas is a time of music, indeed. But. We have to be willing to turn down all the other noise of Christmas in order to really “hear” it.
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100
Christmas idea: musical people: offer to play or sing some Christmas carols at your next friend gathering and enjoy the beauty of music in a way you never have before. Non-musical people: sing as loud as you can at the top of your lungs and who cares what people think!
Christmas prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of music. May the words I sing be an echo of my heart’s cry: Joy to the World! Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! O Little Town of Bethlehem! Thank you that Your love gives my life melody and as I share that melody, you bring harmony to my world through the community of fellow singers. Amen.