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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My favorite Christmas music

(It’s probably too late to be writing about this now that Christmas Day is almost over, but…)

Being that I’m a professional musician, it’s natural that music play an important role in my celebration of Christmas. I’ve played trumpet for Christmas services every year for years and years, except for the past few; this year my sole performance was an unaccompanied intro to the hymn, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” at my church at the beginning of Advent. So to say that I miss playing all the great hymns, arrangements, and works with “real” trumpet parts such as excerpts from Handel’s Messiah or Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is an understatement.

But I’ve enjoyed the wonderful programming of our local classical radio station, which is thankfully a very good one. I’ve heard various performances of Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (from the ballet), including a transcription by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet that is truly spectacular. I’ve heard superb choral renditions of “Lo, How a Rose,” “Carol of the Bells,” “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” “Shepherd’s Carol,” “Coventry Carol,” “Patapan,” “Fum, Fum, Fum,” “I Wonder As I Wander,” and “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light" as well as uplifting performances of the Messiah, the Christmas Oratorio, and Bach’s Magnificat (all of which have great trumpet parts that can be enjoyed vicariously even when I'm not able to perform them!).

But the best treat of all was an unexpected one. Last evening (Christmas Eve), my family attended a small, friendly service at a relative’s church where the program consisted mainly of children singing, playing instruments, and reading poetry. My niece and nephew were among the performers. Imagine my surprise when one of my favorite secular Christmas songs was first on the program -- “Christmastime is Here” from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It was done quite well, I must say, in a gentle 4/4 shuffle (the original is in 3). My niece sang the very nice contemporary song, “Mary, Did You Know?” and I found myself in tears as I beheld this poised young lady who only yesterday, it seems, was a baby herself. As it seems with my own fast-growing children. No, we don’t really know what our babies will grow up to be and do (though we may have an inkling), but it is breathtaking to watch unfold! Even my little nephew bravely sang "Go Tell it on the Mountain," not terribly melodiously but definitely in the right spirit, illustrating the truism well: "God uses the humble to confound the wise."

Also sung was another of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs, Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven." To close the worship time, we all sang familiar carols together after a brief message from the pastor. It was a simple yet truly meaningful preparation for the day ahead.

(I had plans to see what grand service was being broadcast on TV late, but found myself curled up with a book instead, listening for hoof beats on the roof ;-) )


  • When you mentioned Amy Grant I sucked in a horrified breath: all the previous songs you had mentioned had been so good!

    I certainly wish I could have heard your trumpet-playing--at the church where I grew up, my father's best friend used to play the most beautiful Christmas music for church on his silver trumpet... many pleasant memories there.

    Are you a fan at all of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"? A friend had the choir at our church sing it a few years ago and it's been my favorite ever since.

    By Blogger Nate, at 12:00 AM  

  • Hi Nate, sorry to shock you there. Yes, "Let All Mortal..." is definitely on my list (but the one in the post was getting long!) I especially like hymns that are based on plainchant (or chant-like) melodies, such as "Of the Father's Love..." and "O Come...Emmanuel."

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:10 AM  

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