Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Music

I have a hard time with a lot of "contemporary Christian music." It seems mindless, simplistic, one-God-fits-all. Life doesn't seem to me quite like that.

I like songs that, as one of the First-walkers said in Tailchaser's Song, have a little less fluff and more bone. (While it's got little to do with Christmas, I'm also a sucker for love songs that leave the "eros or agape?" question open, like Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is.") So, here's my Christmas song list:
  • "Mary was an Only Child," Art Garfunkel, on the Angel Clare album (go ahead and listen to "Woyaya," which it fades into)
  • "I Believe in Father Christmas," ELP, Works vol.2
  • (spoken word) "The Journey of the Magi," T.S. Eliot
  • "Lullay My Liking," set by Gustav Holst (heartbreakingly beautiful!)
  • "Star of Wonder," the Roches, from their We Three Kings album
I'm sure I've said before that I cry at the drop of a hat... and that last song is a perfect example. Terre Roche, the song's composer and lyricist, writes on the group's web site that she just considers herself the "channel" for the song, and that she encourages anyone wanting to sing it to do so (see the page with the lyrics and music), so I hope she won't mind if I quote the lyrics here (if there is a problem, I'll edit it out and leave the link):
Star of wonder in the heavens
Wonder what you want of me
Should I follow you tonight?
Star of wonder, star of wonder

I am just a lonely shepherd
Watching from a distant hill
Why do you appear to me?
Star of wonder, star of wonder
If you will

In the morning, they'll come looking
For the shepherd on the hill
What would make her leave her flock
For surely she must love them still

Star of wonder in the heavens
Are you just a shining star or
Should I follow you tonight?
Star of wonder, star of wonder
Shining bright

—Terre Roche, ©1991
That took me longer than it should to type; I always break down at the B section. (Do buy We Three Kings; it's wonderful, and not nearly as somber as this great song might suggest. The Brooklyn accent-soaked version of "Winter Wonderland" is a hoot, and the other Christmas original, "Christmas Passing Through," is a delight.)

I wish you a joyous Christmas.

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