Monday, December 29, 2008

Yule Blog - Preaching To The Choir

I think that if I had to pick one thing that I miss about the Christmases-gone-by it would have to be the music. The church my family and I attended was never terribly fancy; Fr. LeCarre always wanted to have a cathedral, what we had was a low-slung CBS building with painted "stained glass" panels surrounding the entrance.

And although there was no choir loft (and usually no choir) there was music and magic in the mass on Christmas. Mr. McGlaughlin became the choirmaster as lent approached and we'd go over to his house to rehearse all the great carols. We'd be standing in his living room, the Air Conditioner running, singing about the miracle of a cold winters night log ago.

Of course back then it never occurred to me that Jerusalem is at approximately the same latitude as Dallas, Texas and in a desert locale. Any descriptions of the "cold winter's night that was so deep" had to be taken as a relative description. There was probably no drifting snow in the streets of Bethlehem. But that didn't change the matter for us. Let's face it, we weren't exactly "dashing through the snow" to get to church in Miami.

But every November we'd start getting ready for the Christmas Eve Vigil and then, "upon a midnight clear" we'd stand in what passed for the apse of the plain rectangle that was our church and sing our little hearts out. I still love hearing the carols the best.

My favorite is still the one by Longfellow:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Henry Wordsworth Lognfellow
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.
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.”
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.”

Wherever you are today, I hope that the music of Christmas is stays with you, all year long!

Don Bergquist - December 29, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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