Saturday, 13 December 2008

Finding some real meaning

I'm in the middle of Christmas rehearsals and if I have to sing "O Come All Ye Faithful" once more this year, I may scream.

Actually, I've got to sing it at least once today (probably twice given as it's a rehearsal) and then at least 3 times tomorrow...not to mention the office carol service on Wednesday, church next Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day...

It's no wonder that my dear Choir Directors keep yelling at us to "remember the meaning" of the words we're singing. It's hard when the alto line for some carols is essentially a middle C on repeat. Fun stuff.

One carol I have no problem in remembering the meaning of is "O Little Town of Bethlehem", which is why I was somewhat surprised to hear that my friend's Dad (who's a vicar, like so many of my friends' parents) has banned the carol from his church. It seems he feels that the words really don't reflect the state of Bethlehem today.

When I was in Bethlehem last summer, I reflected on the irony of the line "how still we see thee lie". Last Christmas, I couldn't sing the carol without remembering the children of Aida refugee camp, the wall snaking its way around the town and the division of the Church of the Nativity. The same's true this year.

People may find the words trite, the poetry quaintly Victorian, but within the carol is the real meaning of Christmas:
"How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in."

In the mean time, check out Amos Trust's Christmas in Bethlehem appeal and Christmas cards (as above).

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