As has been my tradition these last two years, I will be celebrating the season of Advent by reflecting upon music from the Advent & Christmas seasons. My first year writing I focused on classic Advent & Christmas hymns and carols. Last year, my second year, I explored the hymns and carols associated with the traditional celebration of Lessons & Carols.
This year, I am going to be looking at the “secular” music of the season – I put that in quotations because if it is about Christmas, technically it’s already aiming in the direction of a particular religion. However, these are the songs that center their lyrics mostly around traditions that have become what we know as “Christmas” in our popular culture.
Have a blessed Advent & many Happy Holidays – Enjoy!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: with the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year… There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow. There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago…
Let’s begin with Andy Williams’ 1963 classic, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Its energetic tune pushes the song ever forward as our heads swirl in 3/4 time. What is truly ironic is that apparently it was hidden among Williams’ first Christmas album by the producers who felt it was not strong enough to be the lead single (oops).
The lyrics are by far the most fascinating part of this popular standard. Rather than focusing on the season of giving, as many have come to call it, instead the words share the essential traditions that truly make the season what it is. And all of those are things that bring people together.
Whether it is caroling, kissing under the mistletoe, or telling ghost stories (don’t forget how much we love Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol), every single thing that people are doing throughout this waltz tune grows connections and deepens relationships.
So here is our thought for the first day of Advent and December: remember that this (Advent/)Christmas season is far more about how we care for one another and the time we share together. Presents should be an afterthought, or at least fit into the same mode.
It’s all about love. And that is what makes it such a wonderful time.
Traditional Hymns & Carols: Canticle of Turning
Lessons & Carols Music: Once In Royal David’s City