The words and music of this next carol always brings me a sense of peace. The beautiful melody Greensleeves dates from Elizabethan time, possibly even earlier. The song was first registered in 1850 to Richard Jones with lyrics that were neither religious nor respectable. Shakespeare mentions it by name in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" in which it is played while traitors are hanged. In 1865 William Chatterton Dix wrote "The Manger Throne", three verses of which were set to this tune with a checkered past and became the carol "What Child Is This."
It is impossible to measure the impact of these and other carols many of which began as a simple song. The two writers of Silent Night thought they were simply doing something to get through a difficult situation with their church service. But almost two hundred years later, Silent Night is still the most performed and recorded Christmas song in history! In fact, there is a wonderful story about the song that comes out of World War I.
On Christmas Eve fighting was actually suspended on many of the European fronts while people turned on their radios to hear Austrian opera star, Ernestine Schumann Heink, sing Stille Nacht. She was not only an international celebrity, but Ms. Heink was also a mother with one son fighting for the German Axis and another son fighting for the Allies. Her rendition of this beautiful song had the power to actually bring a few moments of peace to a very troubled world!
Such is the potential of a song and the challenge to those who consider themselves Christians. As you celebrate this coming new year, let yourself experience and feel all the wonder of the Season….and then, let those feelings flow into every day, every moment of your life. Let your life be a carol of praise and wonder to our loving God for all to hear.
Watch the clip below from Love Actually to see/hear another take on this.
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