27 November 2007

o holy night.

have you ever stopped to listen to the words of the popular christmas song, o holy night? i mean, really stopped and listened? without going over your shopping list in the back of your mind, without mentally calculating exactly how long it will take you to actually get out of the mall's parking lot on a saturday afternoon in december, without sighing at the thought of another cheesy rendition of this oh-so-popular song? because it is. popular i mean. and for good reason i suppose. it is a beautiful piece of music, at times, hauntingly so. honestly, i could listen to a couple versions of that song (namely jewel's version and one other that i can't remember who sings) over and over and over again. all afternoon if john would let me (he wouldn't).
i think i started loving that song...i mean really loving it...in high school. i was in choir all four years (i think...or was it just the last three? really...where is my memory?) anyways. every year for our christmas concert, all three main choirs (concert choir (the big dogs), soprano choir (just girls) and mixed choir (kind of an entry level choir)) got together and sang an incredible version of that song. i know for a fact that in some sections there were eight different parts being sung. it was well...awesome. chills and chills and chills running up my arms and over my head and down the back of my neck. beautiful. i loved the experience and looked forward to it all year. i so wish i had a recording of it. i could probably find one if i looked hard enough...and i know i have a copy of the music somewhere.
but even then, in the midst of the beauty and majesty of the music...i guess i forgot to listen to the words. or maybe over the course of the years, i've forgotten the poignancy of them. or maybe i've heard that song one too many times...so many that the words have lost their intensity. because they are intense. i discovered that this morning while i was driving home from my dentist appointment. as i was busy clicking through songs on my ipod, trying to find one i wanted to listen to, jewel's version of 'o holy night' came on. i stopped clicking. and started singing along. not too loudly as elijah was sleeping in the back seat. and maybe because i wasn't thinking about hitting that high note (which i didn't even attempt due to my lack of volume), the words slowly came through all the other thoughts that were hazily filling my mind. traffic, to-do lists, my growling tummy, my intense craving for a chai from starbucks slowly faded away and the words, the incredible words of that song filled up the car and erased any niggling concerns that were still pressing on my mind. it was 'a moment' i suppose.
i listened to the song on the way back home, through the starbucks drive-through, all the way until i pulled into the garage. the beauty of the truth tucked away in a silly little christmas song had a profound affect on my outlook on the coming season. i love christmas. i always have. but this year, i've found that while i look forward to the giving and the baking and the music and the decorations...there's an underlying layer of melancholy. maybe because it's been so long since i've shared a christmas season with my family. maybe it's because i really do miss having a white christmas. maybe it's because i'm just so tired. i don't know. but i think that maybe the words of that song inspired a bit of hope...a bit of joy...a bit of anticipation for the coming festivities. just like the song says...i felt that "thrill of hope" and my "weary" soul "rejoice[d]". i hope it really is the dawn of "a new and glorious morn"...because honestly, i miss the little kid excitement i usually have bubbling just underneath the surface the entire six weeks before christmas. i don't want to lose that. ever. not because i'm tired...or missing my family...or missing a silly thing like snow. this is an amazing, divine event we're celebrating. God, come down. in flesh. for us. for you. for me. amazing. truly. i want to celebrate that. despite the melancholy that has invaded my soul. so. this is a good thing. a very good thing.

maybe i'll go put out some more christmas decorations in celebration of our "dear Saviour's birth". while i go do that, i encourage you to read the lyrics of the song and just soak them in. i hope and pray that their beautiful truth will find a home in your heart...and help you celebrate this new and glorious morn with a new outlook this christmas.
Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

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