In the Bleak Midwinter

My dear readers, I need not tell you what night this is.  It is a night of awe.  It is a night of joy.  It is a night full of wonder and light.

It is the night on which a truly astonishing and perplexing thing happened.  Some random cave in the hills outside a backwater town in Judea became the world’s most sacred palace.  A few ragged shepherds and their bleating flock were divinely appointed the blessed courtiers of this holy place.

Then a weak, crying, helpless Infant was born to a poor Jewish family.  And He was the ruler of all Creation.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

And that’s the greatest miracle of all time.  Even considering 34th Street.

Well, I suppose it’s the second greatest.  But the world would have to wait 33 years for the greatest surprise of all.

My dear readers, I pray for all of you, that you may have peace on this night.  That the crisp December air, the light of a fireplace, the carols echoing around you might infuse the world around you with that great paradox of Christmas: that all might be electrified with light and joy, and yet wrapped in a gentle winter’s breeze, sleeping in heavenly peace.

And as the weary world closes its eyes for sleep in this bleak, bleak midwinter of our time, let us who believe in Him who was born at Bethlehem hold high our torches against the night, wild and bright-eyed and roaring with the laughter of a newborn child.  For the fire of our hope cannot be quenched to ash by the frozen gust of any winter.  Let us turn our hearts to Him in joy, and strive never to turn away again.

After all, that is who we are called to be.  Joy and love and friendship and kindness and a heck of a lot of what we associate with the holiday season in general.  That is our identity, every day.  That is who He is.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Enjoy the playlist.  Each of these songs means something quite special to me, and I thought I would share them because they are all so beautiful.

  • My Lord Has Come by Will Todd is one of my favorite pieces we sang this semester in choir.
  • What Child Is This – an awesome arrangement by Straight No Chaser, which we also sang this semester.
  • Carol of the Bells as arranged by George Winston is just one of my favorite things.  Ever.
  • Night of Silence / Silent Night is a crossover I’ve loved since the first time we sang it at Christmas Eve Mass.
  • Grown-Up Christmas List has been on my mind since one of our graduating seniors sang it as a solo this semester.  It’s a song I think we can all relate to.
  • The 12 Days of Christmas as performed by Straight No Chaser is just so expertly written and absolutely hilarious.
  • Gaudete – a medieval carol as performed by The King’s Singers.  An awesome piece by an awesome group.
  • Let It Go / Vivaldi’s Winter – a medley by The Piano Guys.  C’mon, it’s been a year since Frozen came out, and even if you still can’t stand the original, I bet you’ll enjoy this arrangement.
  • Angel’s Carol by John Rutter was one of the first pieces I ever sang in children’s choir, and it forever has a special place in my heart.  It’s lovely.  (Performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
  • Christmas in Dixie by Alabama is one of the (very) few country songs I really enjoy, and quite apropos to this list and my geographical location.
  • Sleigh Ride as performed by the Boston Pops (aka the original version).  The orchestra we sing with every Christmas always plays this at the end of their Christmas concert and it’s become something of a tradition.  It rather says to me, “Good job!  You conquered the truckload of extra rehearsals and driving all over the earth!  I hope it was fun to sing with us!”

And yeah.  It’s worth it.

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