While driving in my car the last several days I have enjoyed a wide diversity of Christmas music sung by an eclectic group of singers. Here's a sampling of what I have heard, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, by Carrie Underwood, “Silent Night”, by Willie Nelson, “White Christmas,” by Katy Perry, “Christmas Lullaby,” by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers and “The First Noel,” by Bob Dylan. That's right, even Bob Dylan has a Christmas album. Bob Dylan recorded his Christmas album entitled “Christmas In The Heart,” two years ago, forty-nine years after the release of his first studio album.
I don't know this for a fact, but I'm guessing that there are more different styles and arrangements of Christmas music than of any other kind of music. There are no doubt thousands of recordings of “Silent Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” and all the other traditional carols. Because there is no accounting for taste, some versions will inspire us and some others may set our teeth on edge. There are however no actual “right” or “wrong” arrangements of Christmas carols, as it is all a matter of taste. For many of us, the arrangements we prefer today may be very different from what we preferred when we were younger because we have changed over the years. The words however are timeless and it is those words that are ultimately the most important part of our Christmas carols.
Just as there is no one “right” way to arrange Christmas music, there is also no “right” way to arrange our Christmas celebrations with friends and family. In fact, just as our taste in music changes over time, we will also find that our gatherings with friends and family will also change as well.
The words of Christmas remain constant as they tell the story of the “Word made flesh.” How we bring those words to life is always changing, however. Allow yourself to be flexible and creative in your options. Maybe this is the year to write some “new music” as you gather with friends and family. Maybe the music will be quiet and more reflective this year, or maybe it will be louder and more up-tempo. Perhaps there will be more voices singing along this year, or perhaps there will be less. One thing is for sure though--the music is always changing.
Try to avoid the common mistake of trying to play music from another time that does not fit the present moment. Let the music change for the circumstances of today, finding comfort in the fact that the words and the message of Christmas are changeless