Archive

Posts Tagged ‘jesus’

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #5 O Holy Night

December 21, 2011 6 comments

I have yet to hear the perfect version of “O Holy Night”. But maybe that’s just me. Actually, you know what? I’m going to start talking about all kinds of stuff that by any reasonable standard I know nothing about, so you shouldn’t pay any attention to me. Stop reading now and go do something else.

As previously stated, I like my Christmas to go pretty light on the Jesus. After all, I am not a believer. But I have spent a few decades in western civilization, and as such I’ve formed some opinions on Christianity over the years. One of which is this: whether you believe or not, the Christian religion and all its trappings have a great deal of resonance, of cultural weight. We’ve been groomed to be impressed by that stuff, deep down. (This is why Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were better movies than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Stupid Crystal Skull: they used this phenomenon.)

And that’s what “O Holy Night” can play on. There’s power in that song, and the perfect version of the song should be able to bring it out. When the singer bellows out, “Fall on your knees,” it should drive anybody listening to their knees. But most singers treat it like just another lyric.

Not because Christmas is about domination and subservience. Just because what’s happening here, the incarnation of God on Earth (which is, after all, the story in question), is impressive. It’s, you know, kind of a big thing. And this is exactly the song to put that over. But I don’t know of a case where anybody’s managed the trick.

Carve yourself off a slab of fruitcake and look for such a version of “O Holy Night” here.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas
#22: The Twelve Days of Christmas
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
#10: Step Into Christmas
#9: Jingle Bells
#8: Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick)
#7: Christmas Wrapping
#6: Silver Bells

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #16 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

December 10, 2011 15 comments

So a couple of days ago when I talked about how Christmas tended to absorb whatever drifted across its bow, one thing I could have mentioned but didn’t was Christianity. I don’t think it’s obscure information that Christmas started off as a pagan winter-solstice festival that got co-opted by Christianity sometime in the past twenty centuries, on the theory that pagans would be more likely to go along with Christianity if they got to keep their same holidays with a new coat of paint.

In other words, when you see the slogan “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season,” it’s not quite right. The days getting longer again is the main reason for the season. Jesus is… well, we shouldn’t overstate the case. The nativity story is, by now, legitimately a big part of Christmas. Not the only part. But certainly a big part. And that’s okay with me.

I mean, I am no kind of a religious guy. Not at all. And I don’t get any more so just because it’s Christmas. But I have to admit that a lot of the Christmas songs that do emphasize the birth of Jesus are really good.

So light a candle for one of the best ones, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” You probably know it pretty well, so select the version of your choice.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas
#22: The Twelve Days of Christmas
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World