So do you have a favorite Christmas Song? It there that one hymn sung at Christmas Mass that rings through your head (pleasantly) the rest of the day? It’s not one we use any more, but I think my son Jerome’s favorite hymn would be – The Mass is ended, All go in peace, We must diminish, and Christ increase. We take Him with us, Wherever we go, That through our actions, His life may show. (He would probably change the last line to The Mass is ended – it’s time to go.) Who wrote that? What year? If you said Ray Repp, the buzzer is now sounding – it was Sebastian Temple in 1972. Do you remember that one? (I know, its’ not a Christmas song – but it does have catchy ring to it.)
O Come All Ye Faithful? O Little Town of Bethlehem? Away in a Manger? Angels We Have Heard On High? Joy to the World? Angels from the Realms of Glory? My favorite – and it has been since the first time I got to sing backup to the most beautiful voice in the world many moons ago while in YCM – is O Holy Night! Second to that would be Angels We Have Heard On High.
Why do I ask? Because music is a powerful thing and when done right, can be a useful tool in raising your spirits if you’re feeling down; putting you in a right frame of mind to offer rightful praise to our God; bring back joyful memories of a distant past; connect you with a loved one that may have passed. Music and singing is said to be like “praying twice”. Music can at times be a downer (just look up Tiny Tim’s rendition of O Holy Night!), but I don’t believe God ever meant for music to be a form of torture so don’t listen to it long. Music has played an important role in my life and I thank God everyday for the gift…each week that I lead my parish in Mass is blessing that keeps on giving joy and fulfillment to me.
I have always been surrounded by music because both my parents loved music. Classical, Rogers and Hammerstein, Doris Day, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck (Mom still loves that guy). Towards the late 70’s, my Mom really got into all of the Jesuit music that was being written and published. My dad was a big fan of Billy Joel – just ask my brother John about that…
I think of music every Christmas because it was on Christmas Eve around 1974 (my family will correct me if I’m wrong) that my Uncle Bob (Fr. Bob Dorhauer) gave the family a blonde upright piano made by “Cable” as a Christmas gift. My sister had started taking piano lessons and was using a mini electric keyboard to practice. Soon after that, we all started taking piano lessons (from one of the most holy men I ever had the pleasure of knowing – Richard Lee, the 8th grade homeroom teacher at St. Blaise). I was in 4th grade at the time, by 6th grade I was accompanying the other classes for the Christmas and Spring concerts for the PTA. In the middle of my 8th grade year, January of 1978 (the week following Christmas season), I played my first Mass – 5PM on a Saturday night) for the parish. If you could have been there, you would have thought “nice try little man – better look at something else to do for a living!!”. It really was that bad. I took lessons on piano and organ until my the end of my Senior year in high school. I sang with and accompanied for the choir int high school, auditioned and made the choir for the Young Catholic Musicians (it was here with this choir that I met my wife – she was the one who sang O Holy Night!!!). Fast forward to today and Sarah and I are both still leading the congregation in music every weekend at the church we attend. I’ve even attempted to write a few songs on different occasions. My love for music is (and will be) neverending.
A lengthy explanation (not really) of why music is so important in my life. Music takes me to a holy place and again, it truly is a gift from God to me. It is in and through music that makes the Christmas season so special for me because it is in music that I find God.
I’m not sure if this post is tying together any certain theme – I feel like I’ve been all over the board this morning. So let me just end with this. Merry Christmas. Do good and avoid evil – especially Tiny Tim’s rendition of O Holy Night! Find a Mass to go to and go. If you can’t because of the COVID, go online and celebrate mass virtually. Christ is the reason for the season. Christ will bring you peace. Christ is the purest, most blessed and sacred gift any of us will ever receive. It was He who brought the Angels and shepherds together in a chorus of praise, sweetly SINGING o’er the plains. GLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORIA – LET’S GO BLUES (oops, wrong Gloria).
Do something great for our Lord today – celebrate the Incarnate Word. Get to Mass and offer your rightful thanks to God for the gift of His heavenly Son – our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.
And for my wife this morning…her favorite words from scripture – John 1; 1-14.
1 In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and without him nothing came to be.b
What came to be 4 through him was life,
and the darkness has not overcome it.6* A man named John was sent from God.e7He came for testimony,* to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.f8He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.g9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.h10He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.11He came to what was his own,
but his own people* did not accept him.12i But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,13*j who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.14And the Word became flesh*
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.