Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seasonal music- Is it really necessary?

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the rush to buy the latest fad for Christmas has begun, as well as the overplaying of Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong, I like the carols as much as the next person. I just get tired of hearing the same songs over and over again. Some of them are okay, especially the ones based on Scripture. It is the tacky, secular ditties that drive me crazy. It’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you. For some reason, I have a hard time getting that one out of my head right now, and I haven’t even been tortured with it yet! I have never been on a sleigh ride, but I can find nothing pleasant or romantic about being out in the cold air with my toes freezing for a long period of time. I hear that tune and I want to scream! (BTW- what makes that and Jingle Bells Christmas songs? They have nothing what-so-ever to do with Jesus or December 25th. They can be sung any time between now and March and make sense.)

So, which are the ones I don’t mind hearing? The traditional carols like Silent Night; Oh, Holy Night; Joy to the World (which is actually about the second coming of Jesus, not the first); Hark the Herald Angels Sing; etc. Also, some of the modern songs by Christian artists are great, like Mark Lowry’s Mary did you Know? Back in the 70s, I heard and performed (in a group) a song by Tim Sheppard, which pointed to the reason Jesus came. The chorus of the song is this:

Born to die to rise again;
To crush the power of death and sin.
I lift my voice, I shout and sing,
Hosannah! Hosannah!
Hosannah to the King!

So, why do the Christian radio stations only play the great carols for a month? I suppose the mentality is that certain songs belong to a certain time of year. Why not mix the songs about the birth of Jesus in with the praise songs and repetitive worship choruses? Perhaps they think no one will like it. I remember back in the days I worked at a radio station and during the Christmas season we were playing the musical that Johnny Cash produced on the life of Christ. When the story got to the crucifixion and resurrection, a woman called and complained about us mentioning the death and resurrection during Christmas season. I asked her if we were not supposed to tell people why Jesus came?

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere...


Gary said...

Amen. and "Ditto!" to everything you said. How interesting that Johnny Cash produced such a musical. Can you tell us what it's title was? I will try to Google it...
BTW, the most beautiful version of "O Holy Night" I have ever heard is the one sung by John Berry. So moving!
Have a very merry Christmas season!

Peter L said...

Thank you.

The recording Johnny Cash made was called Gospel Road. He produced it as a video in 1973. I had the album (4 records total) at one time. It was the life of Christ with Johnny narrating and singing most, if not all, of the songs. It was pretty good, if I remember (and I wasn’t a country-western fan in those days).

The story behind the video was that Johnny Cash had recently made a profession of faith and wanted to do the right thing by tithing. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that the tithe would have been a few million dollars. His pastor told him the church wouldn’t know what to do with that much money, so Johnny produced the musical. (The actual story may be different, as I am only going on 30+ year old memories.)

Michael Allen, Lee College '82 said...

Interesting, as I was preparing for the thoughts related to Christmas that I would share this Sunday morning, I was reminded of this song Hosanna - that I also used to sing in a college choral group in the early 80's. So I looked it up to refresh my memory on the words and found you were having the same thoughts. Wonder where you sang it?

Peter L said...

Michael- Wow! A comment on a 3 year old post!

Thank you for the comment. I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, which is where I was in the small group.