bells

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I believe one’s favorite Christmas songs say a lot about a person. Their perspective on life. The holiday season. Whether or not they’re optimistic. If they believe in the power of love. Or simply think Mariah Carey is the greatest and have a little dance routine which includes the Charleston worked out to All I Want For Christmas Is You.

My favorite Christmas songs? I know you’re dying to know. Carol of the Bells. Preferably instrumental. Anything by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Because really what more does one need than three instruments? [Don’t answer that if you disagree, please] Oscar Peterson’s jazz. John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things is stellar. Is it okay to use the word “stellar”? I think it still is, but who knows?

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I like Christmas songs in minor keys.

What Child Is This?

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

I like sad Christmas songs.

Baby Please Come Home

Please Come Home For Christmas

Obviously Blue Christmas

I have a Spotify playlist entitled “Melancholy Christmas”.

My current favorite…a few years running… All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue, preferably piano/voice version [click on the song title if you’d like to hear it]

I am not a firm believer that it’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

But that’s just me. I am not a bah humbug. I’m just not the merriest of people in December.

A while ago….maybe a week? Maybe longer. My recent memory isn’t the best…. I listened to an old Christmas playlist. One I created in 2012. And a song I’m familiar with came on. But I didn’t pay much attention. Yet a line stuck with me.

God is not dead, nor does he sleep

It’s a line from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I researched a bit. I guess I already knew the song was written during a turbulent time. But I needed a refresher. Yes. Accurate. The Civil War. Maybe ironic my version was recorded by The Civil Wars?

I wonder today how many people think God is dead? Or asleep? Or so absolutely far removed that….. who really knows?

Because, gosh. Our world. I read a bit today about Syria. What is happening there. Which sounds so trite….so I read a bit…. people are dying, which is obviously absurd and ridiculous. I listen to kids, who every once in a while, say something that leads me to believe they are frightened. About their future. What might happen. I listen to my own children. Who have been disappointed. Have lost faith.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Sunday I was able to hear my son, a guitar student, perform. He soloed and played with an ensemble at a Catholic church in Louisville. He also was able to, spur of the moment, play for their mass. I wasn’t there for that part…..because again, it was spur of the moment. He played during the Eucharist.

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In a cathedral like the one I was in Sunday, or very traditionally designed sanctuary, I feel the magnitude of God. The hugeness. The absoluteness. How very small I am. And also the closeness. The personal and the all inclusiveness. But it’s cold, generally cold, in these big spaces. So many people long for an ethereal feeling. The emotions. I abhor the conjuring of a feeling. Fine if you feel something, but let’s be real, feelings change. Honestly, to me, if faith is based on emotions….I have none. No faith. Because the way I feel about anything serious has come around and gone around and is far, far from where I started.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

There’s a facticity about it all. Good, bad or indifferent. Like it or lump it. The wrong shall fail. Eventually. The right prevail. Someday. Which is the root of why we celebrate Christmas to begin with, correct?


Back to Christmas music. On Sunday I also attended Erin’s choir concert. Erin is my son’s girlfriend. She is a gifted soprano, who, as a part time job, sings in a Louisville Presbyterian church choir. Yes….there are churches who pay singers to participate in their music programs. Interesting. Anyway, this concert also included a bell choir. If you have never witnessed a bell choir, I suggest you figure out what one is. It’s somewhat amazing to me, in this day and age of modernism, that some people still enjoy them. Yes, I’m one of them.

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Bells. Ringing. Bells will be ringing, the glad, glad news. Oh, what a Christmas, to have the blues……Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!


The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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