Song of the Heart

When I was a child, there was a family in our neighborhood who always came caroling on Christmas Eve. They’d sing for us and give us a perfectly round (baked in a soup can) loaf of banana bread, frosted with buttercream frosting and topped with a sprig of holly. Christmas had arrived.

As a teenager, my dad used to challenge me and my siblings to recognize the voices of artists who sang Christmas songs and see who could name them the fastest. “Andy Williams!” “Bing Crosby!” “Nat King Cole!” To this day I mentally call out their names when I hear them on the radio.

I remember one night staying up with a sick baby—rocking in a dark room and humming “The First Noel” over and over and over again. Born is the king, noel, noel. It still sounds like a lullaby to me.

Last night my family went to visit a friend of my grandmother’s—an elderly gentlemen with little family close by. After talking for a while, we sang. He played the piano in a lilting 1940s style, heavy on the arpeggios and free with the melody. He doesn’t read a note of music and plays entirely by ear. It felt like magic.

Our stake had a choir festival on Sunday and part of the evening included the entire congregation singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I stood and sang, feeling my voice blend with those around me, hearing the parts intertwine and support, being surrounded by physical praise. King of kings and Lord of lords—bless those soaring, warbly sopranos, it was fantastic.

What are some of your favorite Christmas music moments?

About Melissa Y.

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and currently resides in Mapleton with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in communication studies and a music minor. She loves to dabble and knows a little about a lot of things but not a lot about anything.

7 thoughts on “Song of the Heart

  1. It cannot be Christmas without music. It could be entirely Christmas if all we had was the music. Church music (Angels We Have Heard on High) pop music (Santa Baby…) old English carols (God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen); 12 Days until you go crazy; learning Jeannette Isabella in French; the first time I heard a live choir perform the Hallelujah Chorus; taping the children singing a Christmas song to send to our dad who was overseas; singing carols as we deliver cookies to friends on Christmas Eve; school music programs; someone always playing the piano from the Christmas book; my first Tuba Christmas–at the Kennedy Center with my son playing!! Music is everything that Christmas is–joy and spirituality and family and tradition and reverence. It is so powerful and so elemental that one cannot separate them.

  2. It’s not Christmas for me without Christmas music. While I don’t understand the whole “dreaming of a white Christmas” sentiment (unless you’re talking about shaved ice in a slurpee, in which case I agree) because Christmas is in the middle of Summer here, I love the music I’ve collected. Everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Bette Midler, Kenny Rogers to The Goodies, all of it means Christmas.

    This year my favourite song is probably “He’s Born” by Aaron Edson, with the version from Liken The Scriptures’ First Christmas in the lead. So many choices, so few days to play them in!

  3. When I was a teenager the local community college used to sponsor a Messiah-sing. The concert hall would seat about 2000 and the concert hall was filled. The college provided the orchestra. There were no professional soloists. When there was a tenor solo, all the tenors in the audience who wished to, sang it. We sang just about everything on the score.

    I remember my mom, who had a lovely soprano voice and knew the music well, singing “Rejoice Greatly” with scores of other sopranos scattered throughout the hall. I will never forget that rejoicing.

    My mother can no longer sing those lovely high notes and the college no longer offers that concert. But it is a treasured memory and Handel’s Messiah always takes me back to the joyful sound that night when a couple thousand of us, mostly amateurs, celebrated the birth of the Savior with music.

  4. I cannot wrap gifts unless Christmas music is playing. Last night I was listening to the “Indie Holidays” station on Pandora while wrapping some presents. Lovely.

    The Faith Hill song “A Baby Changes Everything” is the only Christmas song that always brings me to tears.

    I often blare Mannheim Steamroller throughout December and on Christmas morning, we don’t get started until the MoTab Christmas CD is playing.

    By the end of the month, I’m ready to be done with it though. I am NOT one of those people who listens to Christmas music year round.

  5. There is something about “In Dulci Jubilo” that stirs me–the harmonies, the dynamics, the mix of Latin and English…It’s my favorite thing about Christmas time.

    And I love Amazon’s 25 days of free music–I’ve picked up some nifty versions of classics over the years from them.

  6. My Stake had the same thing! You aren’t in the Yorktown NY Stake are you?

    I love Christmas music (not as much just Santa Christmas music). I love when the radio plays uplifting songs. The last couple days I’ve had trouble finding good songs on the radio and was sad. I did better today! And tomorrow I just might bring my own with me so if the radio fails me I can keep the spirit.

    One of my favorite soundtracks is from the Muppet Christmas Carol. A couple songs fall flat and weren’t actually in the movie, but the rest are full of the true spirit of Christmas!

    Thanks for lovely post. Merry Christmas!

  7. I sing in the Portland Ensign Choir (formerly the Portland Mormon Choir.) We’re like a regional MoTab. Really, we’re good. Not me, but we. We had our concerts last weekend and my soul is still ringing with hallelujahs. There is nothing so spiritually stirring as belting out your testimony of Jesus with song, especially with 130 others. I think Jesus sings all the time.

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