Christmas Music: In The Dark Streets Shineth: a 1941 Christmas Story

One of my favorite books of all time is “In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Story” by David McCullough. It’s a short book and mostly pictures, but it tells the story of Christmas 1941, right after the US had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. It was a very dark time in our nation’s history. This book also tells the story of how the Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” came to be and how that song, written in the 1850s, had a part in the Christmas of 1941. I think I also want to nominate David McCullough to narrariate the Ken Burns 9 part documentary on my life (haha).

Some of my other favorites by David McCullough are: 1776, John Adams, Harry Truman, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. Go HERE to see all of his books.

You always feel smarter after reading a David McCullough book. But seriously, I really hope you enjoy this short clip of Mr. McCullough telling this story.

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Christmas Music: Songs from Handel’s Messiah

Happy Sabbath! The perfect Christmas music for today is Handel’s Messiah. These are just a few of the selections from the First Movement, which talks about the prophecies of Christ’s birth and the miracle of His birth. I have many happy memories of singing the Messiah at Christmas and Easter times — in our stake choir growing up, and in college. A few years ago we had a Messiah sing-a-long here in my very small Northern New Mexico town. The choir and orchestra were made up of people from all over the community. I was blown away by the level of talent in our little town. For me singing the Messiah — whether it’s in a choir, or just singing along to youtube videos — never fails to uplift my spirit and helps to sink into my soul the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and how the birth of our Savior is a true miracle.

Here is a good article about Handel and a short history of the Messiah. “The Glorious History of Handel’s Messiah”.

If you click over to this Wikipedia page, you will find all of the songs from the Messiah with their accompanying scriptures.

Click here, for the full Messiah directed by Sir Colin Davis on the BBC. And I have to mention how much I love the BBC, they announce concerts like it was a sporting event. We seriously need to do this in the United State.

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 7: 14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Matthew 1: 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his cname Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Isaiah 40: 9, “O Zion, that ringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60: 1, “Arise, shine; for thy blight is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

Click HERE for a totally amazing rendition in German.

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Christmas Music: Songs from Ireland

Yesterdays’ post of songs from Spain, Catalonia, and Mexico gave me an idea to highlight beloved Christmas songs that come from different countries. Today we have two carols from Ireland. This year, while clicking backwards on my profile, I discovered that my family has Irish ancestors — ancestors that escaped the potato famine of the 1840s no less. I have some reading and study to do for 2019 to learn more about Ireland.

Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil by the Chieftains featuring Burgess Meredith. Yes, that Burgess Meredith, the Penguin from the 1960s Batman TV show, and of course The Chieftains are a great traditional Irish folk music band. But I love this song because of the narration in English, and then the song following in Gaelic. It tells the story of Christmas with beautiful simplicity.

I sing of a night in Bethlehem
A night as bright as dawn
I sing of that night in Bethlehem
The night the Word was born
The skies are glowing gaily
The earth in white is dressed
See Jesus in the cradle
Drink deep in His mother’s breast
And there on a lonely hillside
The shepherds bow down in fear
When the heavens open brightly
And God’s message rings out so clear
Glory now to the Father
In all the heavens high
And peace to His friends on earth below
Is all the angels cry

The Wexford Carol by Alison Krauss feat. Yo-yo Ma on the cello. This song originated in the 12th Century in County Wexford from the town of Enniscorthy. Traditionally it’s sung by men, but in the last few years, women have begun to sing and record it. I love the invitation that the first phrase extends, “Good people all, this Christmas time, consider well, and bear in mind what our good God, for us hath done, in sending His beloved Son.” Consider the good God has done for us, in sending Jesus Christ.

Christmas Music: Songs from Spain, Catalonia, and Mexico

My friend Monsterrat Wadsworth over at Cranial Hiccups asked if I’d heard the Catalonian song, “Fum, Fum, Fum”. And of course I had. It’s a fun song, I remember it being sung in our choir concerts growing up. The “fum” imitates the sound of the drums, and by the end everyone is singing fortissimo. But as I was searching for a good version of the song. I went down a happy rabbit hole of Spanish language Christmas songs, and I was reminded how much I love the Songs from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries and areas — these songs definitely need more air time, because lets face it, you’re also going to go crazy if you hear “Silver Bells” or “White Christmas” one more time. Here are five songs from Spain, Catalonia, and Mexico.

Fum Fum Fum — sung in Catalan.

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Christmas Music: Have You Heard the Story of the Jesus Child?

In the fall of 1988, I was a sophomore in high school. Our choir director, Mr. David Perry, pulled out the Christmas music, and introduced the sophomore choir to a song that was to become one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time, John Rutter’s, “Jesus Child”. It’s an exciting song with a calypso beat. I’ve always imagined the song being a group of friends telling each other about the birth of Christ and as the more people know the story, their joy and excitement for Christ grows.

Here are the lyrics:
Have you heard the story that they’re telling ’bout Bethlehem,
Have you heard the story of the Jesus child?
How he came from heaven and was born in a manger bed?
Mary was his virgin mother pure and mild.

Sing alleluia, brothers, sing alleluja, sisters,
Worship the Jesus child and praise his mother mild.
‘Glory to God’ the angel hosts are singing:
Listen to the story of the Jesus child. Continue reading