The Non-Festive Lyrics of Christmas

I had a request from one of the group leaders this weekend to omit Edward Sears’s third verse of “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” which sings:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife,
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the heav’nly hymn have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong …

beggarsMy personal inclination is to say, “No way.” But I also don’t like to get into repertoire discussions twenty minutes before Mass when I have other things on my mind.

I don’t find these verses, nor the thorns, for example, of “Joy to the World” a problem for the Christmas season. They state truth. Christ was born two millennia ago, and what difference has that made on this planet? For those oppressed and suffering, not much. And still we human beings persist in raising up oppressors instead of children of God.

Does a festive season have to be fully festive? Are some people so battered by life the other 353 days of the year that we can consider cold, trembling people and other unpleasant things in the midst of our comfortable, well-lit, well-heated churches full of mostly well-fed and satisfied people?

I suspect that most of the readers here have no problem with non-festive Christmas lyrics. What challenging words most appeal to you this Christmas season? Include the psalms in your consideration. Perhaps Psalm 2? Perhaps a traditional Christmas song? Perhaps something more solidly liturgical? What should we be singing these days?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Liturgical Music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Non-Festive Lyrics of Christmas

  1. Ironically, I went to Mass on Christmas Eve in a very dark place, emotionally speaking. We sang that verse, and it was truly the highlight of the night for me.

  2. Melody says:

    For non-festive lyrics it’s hard to beat the Coventry Carol.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s