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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

CORNUCOPIA: Christmas Carols

CORNUCOPIA: Christmas Carols

By Betty Weiss
(This column – with some recent editing- first appeared in 2009)
On the night that Jesus was born, the sky was filled with the voices of angels singing hymns of praise to the newborn King. And now, over two thousand years later, mere mortals lift their voices in song to celebrate His birth. They sing everything from age-old Christmas carols to popular little ditties about flying reindeer and talking snowmen.
A few days ago I asked some local women what was their favorite Christmas carol, and here are some of the replies: MARY ANN STONE choose one that’s not often heard, “Mary, Did you Know?” The lyrics were written back in 1984 by Mark Lowry as a meditation for a Christmas program at his church in Nashville. He tried to picture Mary as she held baby Jesus and never being able to imagine all the wonders He would perform in His time on earth. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, you kissed the face of God.”
“Oh, Holy Night” is a carol that vividly depicts the poignant story of the night of Jesus’ birth is the favorite carol of KERRY PEREZ, WANONA STALLINGS, and MARY ELLEN PUNDT. Mary Ellen said she especially likes the version by David Phellps in the Gaither Quartet. She said that it lifts her right up to heaven, and the lyrics tell people to, “Fall on your knees. Oh, hear the angel voices! …Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we.” More heavenly music!
YVONNE HOLBROOK and BARBARA MENKING preferred “Joy to the World,” which says, “And heaven and nature sing…repeat the sounding joy.” Its simple words are truly joyous. Barbara also mentioned her favorite popular Christmas song is, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” In this military community, there are certainly many people that relate to that song. Barbara said that whenever she and her family were in different parts of the world on Christmas, she always wondered what her parents were doing back home.
“The First Noel” is that carol that CLARA PATTERSON said was her favorite. It doesn’t mention angels singing, but you know they are. Since its first publication in 1885 in Philadelphia, folks are still singing this soft and gentle carol.
Most of the women I asked choose “Silent Night.” ANN AMBROZAK, LINDA HUTTO, and MAXINE LETTMAN all selected it as their favorite. And during this Christmas season, heavenly hosts do sing Alleluia.
It was Christmas Eve in 1818 in a small parish church in the little village of Oberndorf, Austria (not far from Salzburg) that “Silent Night” was first performed at Mass. Father Joseph Mohr wrote the words just two days before Christmas and the organist, Franz Gruber, set it to music. Can you even imagine that anyone could write the words and music to such an incredible hymn in two days, and that it would be a classic heard around the world after all these years?
Unfortunately, two of the women who were in the first column have died. HILDE RICHARDSON chose “Silent Night,” and DONNA GIBSON’s selection was “Oh, Holy Night.” I can just imagine them now both singing their favorite carols in the choir. And if they didn’t make the cut for the choir, they probably have front row seats on a cloud for the performance.
Bess Aldrich, author and poet, summed it up nicely, “Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than the body. It warmed the heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”

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