Friday, April 23, 2021

Christmas carols bring us comfort and joy

| December 20, 2020 12:00 AM

“...A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…”

Sometimes the words of those old, soothing Christmas carols reach out and grab you at just the right time. Those particular words are from the timeless tune, “O Holy Night,” composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847, and this year, of all years, they’re imprinted on my soul.

Like most of us, I’ve been singing and playing Christmas carols since I was a child, first in Sunday school, then Christmas programs at school, piano recitals, choral concerts, band concerts and special music at church.

One of the most memorable Christmas season traditions as a teenager was when our Luther League (the youth group of the Lutheran churches at that time) would travel to the elderly members of our country congregation and sing Christmas carols. It was during that time I learned the alto harmony of carols such as “Joy to the World” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Even today, that harmony automatically clicks in when I sing those songs.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has certain holiday traditions tied to Christmas carols. I have a tattered old Burl Ives Christmas tape from the ’80s that I still play when writing out my Christmas cards. And when my girls were teens, we blasted the Hanson Christmas CD as we made Christmas cookies while those cherubic boys belted out “Merry Christmas Baby.”

The most poignant Christmas carol tradition each year, though, is when the candles are passed out at church, the lights are dimmed and we sing “Silent Night” by candlelight, accompanied by a lone guitar. That is my quintessential Christmas moment, when all is right with the world; the newborn baby Jesus sleeps in “heavenly peace” and we rejoice in the salvation his birth promises.

Many of our favorite carols date back to the 1800s, but the history books note early Christians began singing Christmas hymns around the year 129, when a Roman bishop declared a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome, according to a website called Because most early Christmas songs were sung in Latin and the general public couldn’t understand them, the practice of caroling died off until St. Francis of Assisi rekindled the flame in 1223 with his Nativity plays in Italy, the website notes.

Christmas will be quieter this year for many of us as pandemic restrictions continue to affect our ability to gather. But we can still listen to Christmas music, so crank up the sound and let those time-honored melodies speak to you. They are words of comfort and joy.

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth good will to men.”

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or