Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Monday - My Favorite Holiday Music

(OK, yes... it's actually Tuesday. I was busy.)

Today's Theme: The Christmas story!

OK, OK. I know that many of my friends and readers are not religious at all. But whether you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, or whether you believe that the Christmas is a reinterpretation of pagan stories of winter rebirth; some of the best Christmas songs are related to the central nativity narrative.

I tend to gravitate toward the more human side of the story - the combination of confusion and wonder that the players must have felt - rather than the choirs of angels and prophecies of old.

Tomorrow: Interfaith Bonus Music for my friends of different (or no) faiths!

Part 1: The Annunciation
Gabriel's Message: by Sting
In 1996, various artists got together for a Christmas compilation to benefit the Special Olympics. While there have been many iterations of A Very Special Christmas since, the original is, well... special. It popularized this song, a weird and wonderful tale of the annunciation. The original is a Basque carol, but this modern take heightens the sense of alienation one would feel if an angel really did come down from heaven and declare to your teenage self that you were having God's baby.

Part 2: Telling Joseph
Joseph, Who Understood: by the New Pornographers
I'm sure there are folks who would consider this song sacrilegious, because: a) it's by a band with the word "pornographers" in their band name, and; b) it portrays Joseph's existential crisis as he tries to deal with the fact that his intended is having someone else's baby. He's really not cool with the scandal that Mary's unplanned pregnancy is causing in Galilee. Ultimately, though, he comes to accept the situation, even declaring of the baby: "Mary, he is mine." I feel like this message of acceptance and forgiveness is what the holidays are all about.

Part 3: Mary Ponders
Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song): by Sara Groves
This song is the opposite of the one above, in terms of audience. Most of the folks who know this one have heard it in church or on a Christian radio station (it was written by Amy Grant). But I just think it's a beautiful melody and a beautiful sentiment. Gladys Knight does a really nice version, but I think this one is my favorite because it's small, the way I imagine Mary really would have felt.

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