Here we are—another Christmas Eve. It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.
Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year. In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods. Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family. We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.
Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight! With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:
It’s that time of year when Christmas music dominates the airwaves and our collective consciousness. It’s always a tad irksome to me how folks will complain about Christmas music during the Christmas season. Of course you’re going to hear Mariah Carey every fifteen minutes—it comes with the territory. Naturally, let’s at least get through Halloween (and, preferably, Thanksgiving Day), but at least make an attempt at getting into the Christmas spirit.
Last year I wrote extensively about Christmas carols. Indeed, one of my many unfinished projects is to compile a small book containing the stories of some of our most cherished carols (I want to write a similar book about hymns, too). I play and sing a lot of carols this time of year: I’m a music teacher. Perennial favorites—and the selections my classes are currently playing—are “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Holy Night.”
No, it’s not an “extra large” edition of Lazy Sunday, dear reader: it’s the fortieth edition of this hallowed tradition. That’s forty Sundays of thematic reflections, gazing back at the output of fifty weeks of consecutive daily posts. Yep—today marks the 350th consecutive day of posts here at The Portly Politico. We’re just fifteen days away from reaching the one-year mark.
“The Joy of Christmas Carols” – This piece is a reflection on the sheer joy of playing and singing Christmas carols. Like traditional hymns, carols possess wonderful staying power, and they stick with you powerfully. I’ve often caught myself singing “Joy to the World” (more below) in the middle of July. They also beautifully and simply tell the story of Christ.
“Joy to the World” – “Joy to the World” is somewhere in my Top 5 Favorite Christmas Carols (if such a list actually existed). The Number One slot goes to our next entry, but “Joy” is up there, for sure. In this post I analyze the simple but effective use of a descending D major scale to kick off the melody of a song that leaps and bounds across those eight notes, much like the soaring tones of the angels that appeared over Bethlehem that night some 2000 years ago.
“SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night” – I believe that, objectively, “O Holy Night” is the greatest Christmas song ever. I used to say the “objectively” part as a joke—how can an opinion be objective reality?—but now I’ve come to believe it. It’s powerful. It’s operatic. And for $1 a month, you can find out why.
That’s it! We’re closing in on Christmas, rapidly. Enjoy your Sunday, and Merry Christmas!
The unofficial theme of the blog this week has been Christmas music. What better way to cap off the week than with a post about the best Christmas song ever written, Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night“?
Like its cousin “Silent Night,” the story of “O Holy Night” involves a village’s church organ. In 1843, the church organ of the French village of Roquemaure had recently been renovated, so the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the occasion. That poem, “Cantique de Noël,” would be set to music a short time later by composer and music critic Adolphe Adam—and Christmas history would be made.