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Tuesday, 24 December 2013 14:00

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Sacred Carols

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God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,

Remember, Christ, our Savior, was born on Christmas Day;

To save us all from Satan's power 
when we were gone astray.


O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy.

Yes, it is easy to forget, in our hyper-commercialized, secularized, paganized world, that the real basis for our celebration of  “Happy Holidays” is two Christian “Holy Days”: Christmas (December 25, the Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Lord) and Epiphany (the “Revelation of Christ to the Gentiles,” characterized by the worship of the Magi, or Wise Men, celebrated either on January 1, or, more traditionally, January 6).

“Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” and similar traditional secular fare may be fine, fun winter songs, but we should not allow them to displace “the real Reason for the season.” Of course, many of the popular “holiday” songs are not merely innocent paeans to hearth, home, and the wonders of nature, but celebrations of the opportunity for revelry and debauchery, the complete antithesis of the Christmas message.

In our deeply troubled world, where there seems abundant cause for dismay, we can indeed take comfort and joy from the knowledge that “Christ, our Savior, was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan's power 
when we were gone astray.”

Many beautiful renditions of  “God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen” have been recorded and can be viewed and heard on YouTube: The Choir of King’s College, CambridgeNat King Cole; Roger Whittaker, the British-Kenyan baritone singer-songwriter-whistler; Libera, an angelic boys choir from St. Paul’s parish in London; and Bing Crosby, to name but a very few.

And behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. —  The Gospel according to St. Matthew, 2: 9-11.

Numerous artists have made wonderful vocal and instrumental interpretations of “We Three Kings,” a favorite Christmas telling of the pilgrimage of the Magi. Mario Lanza, the great Italian-American opera tenor and movie star of the 1940s and 50s, provides a version here. And here are some additional very different, delightful versions: Mannheim Steamroller (instrumental); John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers; and Kenny G (instrumental); 

As we have noted above, the Holiday (Holy Day) Season extends officially from December 25 to January 6, the Twelve Days of Christmas (hence the carol of the twelve lords a-leaping and the partridge in the pear tree), so there should be no rush to dispense with the carols on December 26, even though the major retailers will be urging us to move on and start following their marketing ploys for (Saint) Valentine’s Day. Here, then are twelve sacred carols by consummate artists for your holiday enjoyment and inspiration. (YouTube videos of the first three suggestions are embedded below.) Of course, there is no need to cease singing our glorious Christmas hymns after Epiphany. These and the thousands of other recordings of sacred carols can help us to “Keep Christ in Christmas” in the most important way — by keeping Him in our hearts every day of the year.

Some Favorite Carols for the Twelve Days of Christmas:

1) Bing Crosby‪ — “O Holy Night”

2) Nat King Cole‪ — “Silent Night”

3) Anthony Way — “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

4) Roberto Alagna‪  — “Il est né le devin enfant” (Born Today is the Divine Infant." A translation from the French is available here.)

5) Kathleen Battle — “Ave Maria”

6) Choir of King's College, Cambridge — "Myn Lyking" ("My Dear Heart." A translation from the Middle English lyrics is available here.)

7) Luciano Pavarotti & Joan Osborne — “Gesu Bambino”  (a translation from Italian is available here.)

8) Enya — "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

9) Andrea Bocelli‪ and David Foster — “Angels We Have Heard on High”

10) Charlotte Church — "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful"

11) St. John's College Choir — “Suo Gân” (“Holy Saviour, yet so tiny,” translated from Welsh here)

12) Natalie Cole LIVE — “The First Noel”

This article was originally published on December 24, 2012.

8 comments

  • Comment Link rprew Wednesday, 01 January 2014 17:49 posted by rprew

    BTW, history is filled with examples of great numbers of people KNOWING something to be true when, as it turns out, it just wasn't so!

  • Comment Link rprew Wednesday, 01 January 2014 17:46 posted by rprew

    That latest post makes it official.

    The illogical mind of Mats Jangdal causes him to not believe anything he thinks he knows, and conversely, he does not know anything (about) what he believes!

    That makes him an expert in his own mind.

    Linguistically speaking, while knowledge and belief are indeed two separate concepts, they are NOT (contrary to Mats Jangdal) mutually exclusive.

    Belief in God and knowledge of God (through personal experience) is not only possible but common.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Friday, 27 December 2013 04:24 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Yes, that is the linguistic logic between knowing and believing. Knowing is a certainty and believing is an uncertainty with an estimated level of probability. There is a profound difference.

  • Comment Link rprew Wednesday, 25 December 2013 17:35 posted by rprew

    "To believe is to not know."

    That is a very curious statement. I take it to mean that you don't believe anything you know.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Wednesday, 25 December 2013 02:33 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Reactions as expected. To believe is to not know. It is therefor no proof of anything but the believers lack of reason.

  • Comment Link rprew Tuesday, 24 December 2013 18:16 posted by rprew

    Remember the adage, he who laughs lasts, laughs longest.

    Psalm 37:13 (KJV)
    13 The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.

    Ecclesiastes 7:4 (KJV)
    4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

  • Comment Link TC Tuesday, 24 December 2013 18:04 posted by TC

    Atheist morons crack me up, when they don't scare the daylights out of me with their self-deception and self-righteousness.
    Atheism and islamism have killed more people then anything else in history.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Tuesday, 24 December 2013 15:52 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Haha! Religious zealots crack me up, when they don't scare the daylights out of me with their self-deception and self-righteousness.

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