I particularly detest the theology of Mrs Alexander (All Things Bright and Beautiful, There is a Green Hill) but despite that I love to hear the boy’s voice ring out clear the first line of my least-favourite carol on Christmas Eve – Once in royal David’s city.
How complex our relationships with festivals and songs are. (Strange, how potent cheap music). A friend has been trying to negotiate her way around a minefield of unhelpful theology, modern gender bias and plumb awful words.
I have two very very favourite carols. The first is the Chester Nuns song – it is unhelpfully in Latin with no modern translation, but words run something like ‘the King who made the skies, the Lord of all ages and eternities, is born in a stable. Among the animals lies the glory of the world’ and it details Joseph buying the swaddling clothes, and Mary kissing and cuddling her baby. There are lots of songs on the theme, but it is beautifully simple. The other favourite is ‘While shepherd’s watched’ not to the usual dreary tune, but to ‘Cranbrook’ better known as ‘On Ilkley Moor’. It is a wholly different thing, though we still get goodwill to men, I fear.
Oh, and one more, the incomparable ‘Christians, awake, salute the happy morn’ with its delightful ‘enlightened shepherds’.
So join in – what are those you enjoy, or approve of, or disapprove of and still enjoy, or…..