Herein lies the end of my Advent journey for 2018 and what a journey it’s been:
- I’ve been reminded of the many different facets to the nativity.
- I’ve recalled the crazy head space that so many people involved in that first Christmas would have experienced.
- I’ve enjoyed cracking out a bit of TS Eliot to explore the Magi’s journey.
- I’ve also learnt that I can’t type the name Joseph correctly first go, unless I type at a snail’s pace (like I did just then). The second half is a muddle every time otherwise.
And so this is Christmas, as John Lennon said, and therefore I feel today’s post is the right time for me to reveal my favourite Christmas Carol.
This is a difficult one. Because there are different categories even among Christmas Carols.
If you were going on most musically appealing I’d pick O Holy Night.
If you were going on the best for communal singing, you’ll recall I singled out Angels we have heard on high. This is closely followed by O Come all ye faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing (what is it about the angels…?).
Yet none of these are my favourite. My favourite I have never actually sung at a Carols by Candlelight type of event which is somewhat befitting for the song itself.
It’s about the shepherds. They were there in the fields that night, but they were no one special. They heard about the birth of Jesus and then went to find him.
When they had seen him they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
The shepherds probably weren’t particularly well educated but they knew exactly what to do:
Go, tell it on the mountain over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.
It’s my favourite carol because I can remember singing it in Church when I was in primary school.
We’d just heard a sermon about the shepherds and their lowly status in society and the fact that they were told about Jesus. Then they shared the news.
Then, we sang the carol.
I can still see myself standing between the pews. I can’t describe what happened, because you usually can’t when it comes to profound spiritual experiences, but I carry that moment with me still today.
It actually makes me cry thinking about it now. (This possibly also due to the fact that by this time in December, describing myself as ‘overtired’ is an understatement).
Still, I don’t want to take away from it.
Whilst there are many lovely carols that are trotted out year after year (along with the ox and ass…sorry….just had to) there are times when many of them feel just a bit naff.
Go, tell it on the mountain is not so, for me. You can’t erase that depth of experience from a song.
And so I leave you with my favourite version of that song by (drumroll…) Big Daddy Weave.
Feel free to have a listen.
There are some notable other offerings of GTIOTM that I also love: Need to Breathe, The Blind Boys of Alabama and the Australian Queen of Song, Judith Durham.
If Big Daddy Weave doesn’t float your boat, by all means choose another version. Or go completely AWOL and party on down with Aretha.
It’s Christmas Day – enjoy yourself.
Wishing a very Happy Christmas to you and yours.
Yours in going,