*sigh* Really? A Xmas Song? OK, Just Barely

This is one of those songs that, although I associated it with Xmas when I was a young child, I have become less and less pleased with over the years. Oh, and I’ve heard and seen folks call it a “traditional cowboy song” (yes, “traditional” and “cowboy” *sigh*), because. . . well, Gene Autry. #gag

So, the third verse hints at a genuine Xmas theme, and the fourth verse actually quotes a snippet of scripture relating to the Nativity, but that is it.

Oh, and “Santy CLaus.”

Gene Autry has a lot to answer for. . . 😉
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Mitt hjerte alltid vanker (My Heart Always Wanders)

A recent Xmas music favorite of mine (OK, “last decade or so” is recent, isn’t it? 😉 ) is the Danish/Norwegian hymn, “Mitt hjerte alltid vanker.” Both the tune and the lyrics speak to me.

Here’s a beautiful rendition by Sissel:

But I’m strongly drawn to Tine Thing Helseth’s instrumental version:

As translations of lyrics go, this is rather rough–sacrificing both a good wedding with the meter of the tune and rhyme scheme–but I think this captures the heart of the meaning about as well as it can. I like the twist Tine Thing Helseth’s album featuring this piece takes on the title though: “My Heart Is Always Present.”

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker – English translation/version

My heart will always wander
To where our Lord was born,
My thoughts will always go there
And take on their true form.
My longing does belong there,
With the treasure of my faith;
I never shall forget you,
O blessed Christmas night!

Oh come, and I will open
My heart and my mind
And sigh with longing,
Enter, Jesus
For this home is Your own,
You bought it for yourself
So I will remain faithful,
With you here in my heart

I’ll willingly spread branches
Of palms around your bed.
For you and you alone
I will gladly live and die.
Come, let my soul find joy
In this moment of delight:
To see you born right here,
Deep inside my loving heart.

Playing Christmas Music Already?

For most of my life, until recently, Christmas music began at least mid-October, if not a bit earlier, because that’s when rehearsals for performances of Christmas music began in the volunteer music groups I have been a part of since early childhood. For a large part of my life, Christmas music began even earlier–sometimes soon after Easter, in fact–because in many cases I was responsible for the selection of material, rehearsal, production and direction of such programs, often for several different groups, and sometimes even in different venues with different organizations in the same year.

And a few times, such preparation begged for new music, or new arrangements suited to a particular program, which also fell to me to write or arrange.

So, folks who rail against Christmas music played before Thanksgiving really amuse me. I now listen to Christmas music for enjoyment, enrichment, and sometimes () with an ear to performance all throughout the year, whenever the mood strikes, for while Easter is definitely the single most important Holy Day for Christians, the celebration of the Incarnation is a celebration of the promise that Easter fullfills.

And so, when I listen to Christmas music–real Christmas music, not pop pap, these words always echo in the back of my mind somewhere:

Trees and lights and bells and carols,
Bright-wrapped packages piled high;
Winter’s sharp blow joins the heralds:
“Christmastime is nigh!”

Mailmen hurry; shoppers scurry;
Time is fleeing – Oh! So fast!
Parties gather, loud and merry,
Grander than in Christmas’ past.

Pause a moment to remember
That a Savior’s simple birth
Still stirs angel wings in susur’ –
“Peace to men; good will on earth!”

Now the Father’s hands that molded
The first Adam in the clay,
Gently ’round a manger folded,
Cradle a Baby in the hay.

So the Greatest Gift extended,
Gift of love and peace to all,
“God’s great love to man descended”
Calls us to a manger stall.

— “The Gift” ©1990 David W Needham

So, yeh, if it’s not pop pap (or pop crap like “Merry Christmas Baby” or other such crap songs), I’m all in for Christmas music year-round.

*meh* What Do I Know, Anyway?

Confession: I saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” once, when I was 18. Didn’t like it. I found it to be too artificially manipulative and full of stereotypes. The plot was also dissatisfying.

It’s a lousy Christmas movie.

*shrugs* What do I know, anyway. . .

Just One More Reason to Deplore the “New Truckers’ Version”

I’ve seen a few citations of John 3:16, as mistranslated by the “New Truckers’ Version” (NIV), in the run-up to Xmas:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I deplore the “New Truckers’ Version” (NIV) in part because of rather gross mistranslation like this. My only gripe with this is that “monogenes” does NOT mean “one and only son” but “only begotten son”. The two are rather profoundly different.

“One and only” is easily impeached by other scriptural passages, even without simply translating “monogenes” correctly. Adam is called a son of God; Israel is called sons of God, Jesus calls peacemakers sons of God; the resurrected, those who have faith in Christ, etc.: all “sons of God” according to scripture. Jesus is the only BEGOTTEN Son of God: unique, no other like Him.

Yes, I know more and more commonly illiterate folks nowadays might stumble on “begotten,” but that’s just another reason for Xians to be more literate, so we can explain things like the virgin birth, the miracle of the Incarnation.

Or heck, give ’em a dictionary.

Music for Xmas, In Your Head

I’ve never really been satisfied with Gustav Holst’s CRANHAM as a tune for the following poem, probably because the words seem too quietly, gently powerful for the tune, but perhaps you’ll hear it differently in your mind’s ear as you read the words.

In the Bleak Midwinter
By Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

“Xmas Month”

I’ve sort of set aside the traditional Advent calendar/observations for a more general “Xmas Month” wherein I ponder the miracle of the Incarnation, plan family events/gift exchanges and catch up on Fall/Winter household tasks, as time presents itself (a hugely increased amount of time, what with no distractions from couch potato entertainment, cos “Christmas” TV shows are almost universally crap).

OK, so Xmas shopping: finished. Xmas dinner: in the freezer and pantry, ready for assembly. Xmas decorations: not yet up, but easy-peasy. Xmas playlist(s): playlists from last several years ready to cue up and play on MCPC. I’d say that December ought to be a piece of cake, assuming I don’t have some weird techie problem handed to me, and even then all that’d be is fun.

Of course, the sky could fall (as it seemed to almost nine years ago with a huge freezing rain that brought power lines and trees down all over the county leaving most of the county w/o power for a month or so) or some other unforeseen event occur, but. . . pantry/freezers, camp stove, oil lamps, etc. Other things could happen to throw the month off kilter, but that’s just life.

Other life events, speed bumps will naturally occur (indeed, a minor car problem for my Wonder Woman as she headed out to one of her libraries this A.M.), but, again: just life.

Looking forward to the rest of December: Xmas Month.

A Slightly Different Kind of Advent/Xmas Thought

This is more of a challenge to the reader, several, actually.

First challenge: relate the following to Xmas/Advent:

While I have known some atheists who score well on IQ tests, Pascal’s Wager aside, atheism is profoundly arrogant, and arrogance is always stupid. (Challenge #2: Wha!?! Discuss amongst yourselves. The voices in my head have been chewing on this one for decades.)

In a similar fashion, I have known some self-proclaimed agnostics who also score well on IQ tests, but whose mental scotoma (consisting of unconscious, unexamined preconceived biases) prevents them seeing the intellectual dishonesty, laziness, and inherent contradictions of their position. (On that last, ask an agnostic how he can know he doesn’t know if God exists. After he wanders off into the woods of epistemology, then you can start to really have fun playing with his brain. Challenge 3: Discuss amongst yourselves, etc. :-))

And yes, I still assert that this is an Advent/Xmas-related post (that’s the easiest challenge *heh*). Here’s a wee hint: every year around Advent, I start really thinking about Easter. Every year around Easter, I ponder Advent/Xmas. Why would I do that?

Come, Emmanuel!

You may have to click through for this (because YouTube can be a prickly lil creep from time to time), but it’s well worth it.


And just for fun, and better than the Mannheim Steamrolloer and Trans Siberian Orchestra versions, IMO: