I may be burning out on Christmas songs.
How do I know? Because normally, this is a favorite hymn tune, but this morning when started singing, I felt like I was dying a little inside.
Of course, this is how I feel every Christmas season, when we are bombarded with this music nonstop for weeks and weeks. I do my very best to limit my exposure to Christmas music before December 15th to stores I can’t avoid, rehearsals, and concerts I’m singing in. Otherwise, it is all just too much for me. I’m sure some of this is feeling the weight of loss at this time of year – Dad, whose birthday was the 23rd of December, died a week before Christmas; Mom died around Thanksgiving. December is a hard month, but one I manage carefully, both by intake and by leaning into the liturgical season of Advent and its wide scope of meaning.
I probably overestimated my ability to tolerate Christmas in spring, because of the limited scope of this practice. But it’s really killing me today. I just don’t have it in me to talk about the lyrics (which the Hymnal Commission attributes to “Composite” – a note I might have guffawed at in my kitchen)… or even this beloved medieval tune.
So … this is a day when the spiritual practice is more of a grind (it happens)… and here’s a prayer the rest of the Christmas songs don’t keep beating me down the way this one is today.
Anyway, here are the lyrics, and afterwards, I’ll drop in a couple of YouTube links to the music.
On this day everywhere
children’s songs fill the air,
greet the child, new and fair,
Christmas gift so holy,
born in stable lowly.
Ideo gloria in excelsis Deo!
Sweet the babe, strange his bed,
manger hay round his head,
cattle there in the shed;
Mary, Joseph by him,
shepherds drawing nigh him.
Magi three find their way
by a star’s shining ray
to the child in the hay;
give their wondrous presents,
gold and myrrh and incense.
Here’s a version of the tune (different lyrics, in Latin) that reflects the arrangement we have:
And here’s a version set by the master, John Rutter; it’s the version I first learned:
You can find lots of other versions on YouTube – I found a bunch set with guitar, mandolin, and other stringed instruments.