Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Carols

We've been doing a lot of Christmas carol singing lately. Our church band has been out playing different events. (Some events a donation for The Salvation Army is even taken up!) We've played for a British Christmas party, the local state run nursing home, the weekly Monday market in town, a restaurant, and later this week we'll play at the port carol sing in a town around the mountain from us.

All of this singing has caused me to reflect on various Christmas songs. There are 3 in particular:

1. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" BandAid.

You know the one, they play it on every Christmas rotation list in the States. It's on at least 2 Christmas CDs I own. You know, the one where you hear Bono scream "Well, thank God it's them insteeeeaaaadddd of yooouuu!"

The lyric that sticks with me is this:

And there won't be snow in Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Is Christmas only defined by snow and nicely wrapped presents? I will admit this year the Christmas season seems "unseasonal" to me, personally. I'm celebrating Christmas with palm trees out my back door, not 10 feet of snow (which apparently just hit my midwestern friends). But it doesn't make it any less Christmas, right? I'm sure in Africa, no I'm positive, they still celebrate Christmas, it just may look different from mine, or your idea of "Christmas".

Which leads me to the 2nd song:

2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I think I have a strange 'attraction' to the minor keyed Christmas carols. I LOVE this song. It's always been one of my favorites. It has come to mind many times as I make it through my first Christmas so far away from friends and family. In those moments when I'm feeling lonely and homesick, I remember that this celebrational season is because Emmanuel came for me! So, though at moments I may sit "in lonely exile", those moments when the boys simply will not play together nicely, the cookies burned again, the Christmas tree is falling over, when I miss my family and my "normal", the Son of God will appear (to speak to me through new friends, new traditions, and lots of great coffee) and for that I shall rejoice!

And finally:

3. Noche de Paz (Silent Night, in Spanish)

Noche de paz, noche de amor, Night of peace, night of love
todo duerme en derredor. All around is sleeping
Entre sus astros que esparcen su luz, Between the stars which scatter their light
bella anunciando al niñito Jesús. Beautifully announcing the baby Jesus
Brilla la estrella de paz, Shines the star of peace
brilla la estrella de paz. Shines the star of peace

We sing this song often here. I appreciate how the words are slightly different from the English version. The part that sticks with me this Chistmas is the word "peace". Some how, without the assistance of a major fundraising effort, I have managed to overschedule and exhaust myself this Christmas! And I always thought kettles was to blame. God will often bring this song to mind when I start to think about how I just wish the season would be over with so we could rest again. The point of the season isn't to rush around buying things, or going places, or carting yourself all over town to entertain. It's a moment of peace. A moment of love. I hope that these last few days I will stop to notice that the stars still beautifully announce Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


Chatty Kelly said...

I LOVE the pictures of the boys! Too cute! What a great addition, it made me smile so big.

Singing along with you....

Sue J. said...

That IS a beautiful picture of the boys! And I LOVE the carols...been digging into them for their significance and the loveliness of their words.

Love the "new" "Silent Night." Just beautiful!