Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Silence, and I Wonder as I Wander

An excellent method of preserving interior silence is to keep exterior silence. . . even in the world, each one of us can make his own solitude, a boundary beyond which nothing can force its way unperceived. It is not noise in itself that is the difficulty, but noise that is pointless; it is not every conversation, but useless conversations; not all kinds of occupation, but aimless occupations. In point of fact, everything that does not serve some good purpose is harmful. It is foolish, nay, more, it is a betrayal to devote to a useless objective powers that can be given to what is essential. There are two ways of separating ourselves from almighty God, quite different from one another but both disastrous, although for different reasons: mortal sin and voluntary distractions—mortal sin, which objectively breaks off our union with God, and voluntary distractions, which subjectively interrupt or hinder our union from being as close as it ought to be. We should speak only when it is preferable not to keep silence. The Gospel does not say merely that we shall have to give an account of every evil word, but of every idle thought.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

I Wonder as I Wander, by John Jacob Niles

1. I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

2. When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

3. If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

In other words, Christ could have had anything, but what he chose was to be born as a man, and in choosing this, he chose to die. The “wonder” of the song is discerned in the startling revelation that the reason for the Lord’s decision to be “born for to die” was because of us. He did this all for us- not because he had to, but because we needed him to do it, an act of generosity that is made even more mysterious by the fact that there was nothing all that special about us that would have made us deserving of such generosity. Being high and mighty is really an illusion. We all are, as the song says, “poor ordinary people.”
. . .
The best of Christmas carols, which express not only the mystery of Christ’s holy birth, but also the total event of the Incarnation, are remarkably devoid of the sentimentality that has become synonymous with so many songs associated with the Christmas season. In respect to their theology, these carols are often extensions of the kinds of insights that one comes across in the Fathers of the Church who were able to correlate the events of Christ’s nativity to the Paschal Mystery; the wood of the stable foreshadows the wood of the cross and the swaddling clothes represent his burial shroud. We do not arrive at the scene of Christ’s birth and discover an event that can be abstracted from the rest of his revelation- what is presented to us in Bethlehem mysteriously contains within itself the events of Golgotha.

The Crib and the Cross

Christmas 2015

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In the Bleak Midwinter

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Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Met

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Hallelujah Christmas

Hallelujah Christmas, by Cloverton

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

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Do Not Despair

The Chimes tells the story of Trotty Veck, a street porter who scrapes together a poor-but-honest living delivering messages through the streets of London. Trotty is a small-business owner who “loved to earn his money. He delighted to believe … that he was worth his salt. With a … message or small parcel in hand, his courage, always high, rose higher.” On New Year’s Eve, Trotty is driven to despair by the evils of the world. That night, the ringing of the chimes in the church tower awakens him. Drawn to their sound, he finds himself called to account for his despair by the bells and their goblin attendants. They show him visions of a future that awaits if he gives in to his despair, and in the morning, he wakes to find himself at home, surrounded by family and good will.

The bells and the goblins accuse Trotty of falling into three specific errors in his moments of despair. First, he is guilty of dreaming of a romanticized past at the cost of neglecting the opportunity to improve the present. Second, he is guilty of assuming that the plans of the poor are of no importance to anyone. Third, he is guilty of a misanthropy that condemns humanity as evil and not worth saving.

I couldn’t help wondering, while reading The Chimes, whether Trotty’s errors were meant to replicate the errors often committed by readers of A Christmas Carol.
. . .

Depriving the poor of their choices and invading their lives with paternalistic plans for improvement that destroy the fragile plans they have built themselves is no way to aid them.
. . .
When we talk about A Christmas Carol, we fail to give Scrooge credit for transforming. We “abandon him as vile” and “turn our back upon the fallen.” The Chimes won’t let us do that. It is not enough to urge Scrooge to be good to others. We have to remember to be good to Scrooge. Otherwise, we haven’t learned a thing.

As a work of art, The Chimes will never replace A Christmas Carol. It’s simply not as memorable. But as a moral lesson, it is a fine corrective to some of the ways in which our dreams of the past, our desires to help in the present, and our fears about the future of humanity can lead us astray.

A Tale of Two Stories: It is not enough to urge Scrooge to be good to others, by Sarah Skwire

The Chimes (Wikipedia)

Despair

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Merry Christmas!

Met Christmas Tree

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, King’s College

“Do not be afraid!”
Pope Francis, Christmas 2013

Christmas Tree and Crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Bonus video:

Christmas 2013

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Fireplace with Christmas Classical and Jazz

Fireplace with Christmas Classical and Jazz

Christmas 2013

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♩ ♬ All I Want for Christmas ♫♪ ♪ ♫

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Coventry Carol

Coventry Carol, by Kings College Choir

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Coventry Carol, by Anuna

Coventry Carol, by Westminster Cathedral Choir

Christmas 2013

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Ready for Christmas 2013

Anúna, Christmas Medly

Christmas 2013

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