I love Christmas.
I’ve got a big family, and we’ve always had big celebrations with tons of traditions around Christmas time. We were never raised religious, but Christmas has always been a celebration of family and togetherness. Every year we make tones of food, give gifts, and listen to boatloads of Christmas music. This year, we even went to a “Caroling and Cocktails” show put on by our friend Michael John, and got lyrics sheets to help us sing along. As the night wore on, I realized that I only know about three lines to most Christmas songs, and the lines I don’t know are really, really weird.
Quick, gut reaction, what is “O Christmas Tree” about? A pretty tree, right,? It’s got lovely branches and… something else? Let me tell you what else. It brings pleasure. Much pleasure, even! “Much pleasure thou can give me“. I guess that’s fine… it’s a bit of a weird way to say that you like looking at a tree, but fair enough. It’s also a God given tree. “How richly God has decked thee.” Okay, so it’s a tree that God decorated, that’s fine. Except it’s also here with a demand. “Thou bidst us true and faithful be, and trust in God unchangingly.” That’s right, this isn’t a person singing about their own tree, they are signing about a pleasure giving tree decked by God, and this tree is demanding the unwavering devotion and trust of the singer.
There were a bunch of lines like that throughout the night.. some weird in how they incoporate God and Christ, some just weird. Here’s some highlights:
“Hail the Flesh, the God Head see, Hail the incarnate diety.” – Okay, without context, you can’t tell me that this doesn’t sound like a DnD summoning spell.
“Troll the ancient Yuletide carol.” – What did Carol do to deserve us all trolling her?
“Let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rock, hills and plans repeat the sounding joy.” – Men are going to hire some songs, then have use the living earth as an amplifier?
“Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie and we’ll do some caroling.” – Pumpkin Pie? At Christmas? For shame!
It’s really weird diving in to music that I’ve listened to my whole life without ever really processing the lyrics. It turns out that there’s a lot in these songs that I don’t really know the meaning to. But still, at the end of the night, when a room full of strangers all sang White Christmas together… it definitely meant something.