I love the Christmas season. I love the reason for it. I love the music. I love the anticipation, and the getting together, and the special food, and the decorations, and the lights.
We’re having a good time here at the Spherical Model household with everyone home at the same time for a few days. It’s hard to beat that—especially when grandchildren are involved.
I’ve noticed that one of the things I enjoy is music that brings to life what the first Christmas must have been like. So here are a few musical glimpses of the long ago night.
Mary Did You Know?
This has been a favorite song for more than a decade. I sing it a lot at home, and performed it once. I love the verse that says, “Mary, did you know… when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?” And I used another line to describe this year’s Christmas card photo: “Mary, did you know…that the sleeping child you’re holding is the Great I Am?” We used daughter Social Sphere and her baby, when he was a week old, to illustrate.
“Mary, Did You Know?” is on my favorite Kathleen Battle (soprano)/Christopher Parkening (guitar) CD, Angels’ Glory. This CD from 1996 has been playing in my car for several months a year for a decade so far. “Mary, Did You Know?” is the first piece on it. For me this may be the quintessential version.
But this year there were several new versions worth hearing.
I’m not a regular viewer of American Idol guy, but someone linked this on Facebook, and it really was worth hearing Jordan Smith perform “Mary, Did You Know?” earlier this month.
I like any Christmas song done by a capella quintet Pentatonix, and almost anything else they do. (They’re one of my favorite Pandora stations for Christmas.) Their “Mary, Did You Know?” is a great addition to my collection.
There was a great list of video music—one a day for 12 days—in which YouTube stars introduced the Mormon.org video “A Savior Is Born”. Two of these were renditions of “Mary, Did You Know?,” and I loved them both. One was a capella solo phenomenon Peter Hollens.
The other was Evie Clair, whom I hadn’t heard before. She’s very young, even younger than the real Mary. But her performance was touching, and I’m hoping to see more of her in the future.
Breath of Heaven
Another song that takes us back to that nativity with real feelings is “Breath of Heaven.” I sang this in church one year. But Amy Grant’s version is probably the definitive one. I especially like the verse that says,
Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
This video uses images from the movie The Nativity. It’s quite beautiful.
Little Drummer Boy
This song doesn’t exactly fit into the “what was it really like to be there” category. And it hasn’t always been a favorite. But a couple of years ago, when I heard Pentatonix do "The Little Drummer Boy," it became new and brilliant.
This year, as part of those 12 days, Alex Boyé did an Africanized, very upbeat version that she makes me happy.
It was the most momentous beginning in the history of the world; so we celebrate. Merry Christmas to all!