True confession time: I hate December's non-stop barrage of Christmas music. To me, the heart-tugging crescendos of O, Holy Night and Silent Night are the hymnodic equivalent of a movie heroine realizing that she does love that guy and must now chase him through an airport. Aww, it's sweet to see and hear once in a while. It's also a tired cliche and totally unrepresentative of what love means to most people's daily lives. My relationship with God is not a constant emotional high, so I'd rather not live through a month of monotonous sentimentality. I don't want to be sick of Christmas by the time December 25 rolls around.
I realized this was a problem on Friday, when I had some business at Bank of America. There were some scarecrow decorations in the teller's window - A+ for seasonal appropriateness. Then I noticed the boom box radio under a lobby table. It was blaring - you guessed it - O Holy Night. The Celine Dion version.
I had to wait in line for 10 minutes, so I heard the whole song, plus some Johnny Mathis. I was really mad the onslaught had started so early this year.Was anyone really listening to this stuff anyway? If there are any non-Christian employees how do they tolerate this for the next month? I thought to myself "If this were a Coen brothers movie I'd up and turn the music off. Better yet, I'd drop-kick that boom box across the room and somehow connect the Advent season to my buddies who died in 'Nam." (The Big Lebowski is currently streaming on Netflix. Clearly I am too impressionable to watch movies.)
So, to help me keep my sanity this December and enjoy the season, I'm going to post Advent and Christmas songs that I actually like. There will be no emotionally manipulative lyrics about believing in magic or kids buying shoes for their dying mothers. There will be hymns, chants, and even some classic 1990s pop. There will be an Advent focus at the beginning.
To start, here's a fanfare for today's feast of Christ the King, which is the end of the Church year. I learned today that Pope Pius XI established the day in 1925, so it was more a reaction against totalitarianism than a celebration of medieval politics. This feast was a big deal at my high school, and I always loved when the choir sang this song. Many thanks to my friend Steve for leading me to the title and MP3 download.
Choral Fanfare for Christ the King by H. Hamilton Smith