January 1, 2011

Why No Christmas Play-lists from the Abbey?

Editor's Note: With typical wisdom and good humor, our music director, Rob Passow (@Rob_Mus) explains why you haven't heard any Santa tunes from us.

It’s easy to find the Christmas music – everywhere. Surely you noticed our intentional observance of the season of Advent? That's because while the rest of the world sings, “I’ll Be Home to Rock Around the Snowman with Rudolph, Charlie Brown,” those who follow the church calendar prepare for the birth of Christ: the arrival of Emmanuel, God among us.

Over the centuries, Advent has inspired many poets and composers to create beautiful songs: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," "Sleepers, Wake; There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying," "Adam Lay Ybounden," "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus," to name a few. Our play-lists for Advent included music about preparing for the new-born King.

As we move into Epiphany, which celebrates the Magi’s arrival in Bethlehem, we sing hymns and carols that we may think of as Christmas songs. In reality, they’re for the liturgical season of Epiphany: "What Star is This," "We Three Kings," "Star in the East," "Coventry Carol" (remember Herod, the king?) and others.

Although Epiphany is officially on the liturgical calendar January 6, this year many Christians will celebrate it on January 2. In either event, we invite you to enjoy Christmas music – sacred and secular – on YouTube and elsewhere for another day or so. After all, it is still Christmastide.

Then, on Sunday or Thursday or both, tune into the Abbey’s Epiphany play-list to remember what the Wise Men knew: (to quote an over-used cliché) “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

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