Sunday, December 16, 2007

2. Christmas music

This is a list that might never end so I will not begin a list. Instead I'll just share a few of my favorites.

Harry Connick Jr's When My Heart Finds Christmas is a collection that's been a part of our family for YEARS. We wore out two cassette tapes of it before purchasing a cd a few years ago. I think we may need to replace the cd this year because we listen to it so much. It's a great mixture of fun and beauty and Santa and Jesus with a great musical combination of jazz and blues and downright gorgeous. If you haven't ever heard it, go find it. Here's a sample, but you need to hear the whole thing.

Years ago I decided that my children needed to be culturally literate and that mean being more than familiar with Handel's Messiah. Although the Hallelujah chorus is probably the best known portion of it, "Worthy is the Lamb," followed by the Amen chorus is my favorite part of the piece. We listen to Messiah all the way through at least once every Christmas season. "Worthy" and "Amen" are not merely beautiful pieces of music; they are transcendent, capable of giving you an experience that mirrors the music of Heaven. I love to stand in the middle of a room and just let the music wash over me. Tradition says that Handel spent so much time in the Biblical text that he began having visions of angels and that they delivered the music to him.

Recently I discovered "All is Well," a piece written by Michael W Smith about ten years ago. It is breathtakingly beautiful. At first I thought it was an old English Christmas hymn that I wasn't familiar with. Then I read an interview with Smitty that asked, "What's the best song you've ever written?" His answer? "All is well." I've heard it sung by choirs, by Heather Payne of Point of Grace, and by Clay Aiken and it's always beautiful. This year, I'll be singing in a small choir at the Downtown church's Christmas Eve service and we'll be singing "All is Well." I've wanted to sing it with a group since I discovered it. God answers prayers.

Be sure to take time this year to really listen to the beauty that surrounds us. It isn't only the words, but also the music itself that allows us to communicate with God in a way that words cannot. As much as I love words, they have limits. Music conveys emotions that words cannot touch.


Sheila said...

And yet music without any underlying message misses so much. Whether or not the music has actual sung words, it is the worded message that inspired the music that makes it so meaningful.

I think of people who sing Christmas music but don't really know or believe the story. They are not moved the way those are who know the music *and* the words.

I'm not disagreeing with you, I don't think, but I was just thinking yesterday a lot about this, how so many people in the performance world don't seem to "get it" because they are only listening to the music itself, nothing underneath.

Lisa said...

Agreed! Definitely agreed! The bottom line seems to be the belief that there is a God and that music is a means of connecting with Him. Sometimes it is the words that express it, but sometimes it is the beauty of music itself that connects us with the God who created beauty, harmony, and emotion.

It makes me think of Romans 1: Do we worship the created or the Creator? Do we perform music so people will love our voice or be amazed by our abilities or to share the joy of the Lord?

Good conversation! :-)