Monday, December 20, 2010

Forgotten Carols

Santa Baby and White Christmas blare in every store. Silver Bells and Let it Snow stream constantly on the radio. You feel a whiff of fresh air when you finally hear a Christmas carol - The First Noel, Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High.

But how often do you hear the second verse of What Child Is This?

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nail, spear shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail! Hail the Word Made Flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Or The Holly and The Ivy?

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Refrain: Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour
The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

Many old carols, especially many originating from Medieval England have a very strong emphasis on the Passion. They recognize the sweet little babe in the manger as the Savior of Mankind - the Savior Who will be so brutally killed for our sins.

As Christmas comes, take time to discover some of these beautiful carols and be reminded of the reason Christ was born in a manger.


Jerome Vincent said...

Thanks for this post! The last verse of another favorite, "Sleep Holy Babe," runs as follows:

Sleep, holy Babe,
O take Thy brief repose:
Too quickly shall Thy slumber break,
And Thou to lengthened pains awake
That death alone shall close.

Some of my favorite Christmas holy cards are those that show Our Lord as an infant, holding a crown of thorns in His little hands. You sure seem to be right, there used to be a more recognized connection between the Incarnation and the Passion.

Best wishes and Merry Christmas to all the Church Ladies!

Anonymous said...

I remember as a grade school kid getting excited about the 2nd verse of "What Child is This" because I got to sing the word "ass" in church. Oh, the mind of an eight-year-old boy...