This month, I’m writing about the beauty of the Christmas/holiday season. I’d love to hear from you about your traditions.
As I write this, I’m listening to Stanton Lanier’s December Peace. I don't usually listen to music when I'm writing because I end up singing, humming, and even dancing sometimes, and that makes it hard to get work done. But Stanton’s instrumental piano music is perfect for creative times, and it has become a standard for me this season.
When I think about the beauty of Christmas, one of the first things that comes to mind is the music.
I still remember every word and note of the Christmas album my parents played every year once the tree was up and decorated. As an adult, I was thrilled to find an old recording of the album, Harry Simeone’s The Little Drummer Boy.
Whenever I turn it on, I’m transported back to our split-level suburban house with green sculpted carpet and a Christmas tree strung with big, colored lights. The music, with classically-trained soloists, interspersed with narration of the Christmas story, fills me with longing for a few moments with my family as we were then.
Maybe because my earliest memories revolve around traditional Christmas music, my favorites tend to be traditional. For example:
Handel’s Messiah. My concert choir sang the Christmas portion of Messiah every year in high school, and it’s still dear to me. Whenever I hear it, I can’t help singing along, although I can hardly hit those soprano notes now. When my dog's ears start twitching, I know it’s time to stop, at least until the notes come down a bit.
Christmas with Robert Shaw. When I was a college student and later as a young married, we often went to see Christmas with Robert Shaw, a music festival with Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus in movements like A Festival of Carols and The Many Moods of Christmas. These festivals included local university and community choirs.
The stage always looked as if it couldn’t hold one more person, or even one more sheet of music, and I was always felt my spirit soaring at the beauty of Christmas.
And just this past Sunday, we went to hear a friend sing The Many Moods of Christmas with her church’s chancel choir and orchestra. Listening to those gifted singers and musicians perform those songs was a highlight of the Christmas season for me so far this year.
What about you? Do you have a favorite piece of Christmas music that inspires you? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook here.
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