Friday, December 12, 2008

What Sweeter Music

One of the things I love best about Christmas time is the music. I especially love the carols. Originating from the French word caroller, meaning to dance in a circle, the word eventually came to mean not only dancing, but also lyrics set to music, particularly about the Nativity. They were first introduced into church services by 12th century writer and church man St. Francis of Assis (of "Lord, Make me an Instrument of Thy Peace" fame).

Many of my favorite carols were first poems written by English poets, now set to music. As I've mentioned before, Christina Rossetti is a favorite of mine and many others, but perhaps the work of a lesser known poet (at least to the general public), is that of 17th century genius Robert Herrick. Best known for his carpe diem poetry, he also wrote this beautiful carol that was first presented to the king.

My favorite setting of it is John Rutter's, maybe because I've had the privilege of playing under his baton a number of times, but I think more because of the peace that overcomes me when I hear the music and contemplate the impact of the gift of salvation that is implicit in the birth of Christ. For me, there truly is no sweeter music we can bring than a carol celebrating our Savior's birth.

No comments: