Hey everyone! Thank you so much for the positive responses to the “25 Days of Holiday Songs”! If this your first time joining me on the challenge, you can read the posts from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 by clicking on each day.
I also want to announce that I have created a playlist on Spotify. It features songs mentioned during the challenge as well as some recommendations. You can check it out here or below:
Moving on to today’s post, guest writer Amy Barnes picked a classical Christmas hymn. But, the memories behind this Christmas song is so deep and bittersweet. It will touch the hearts of whoever reads it.
Click to read Amy’s heartwarming memories and her Christmas song pick!
O Holy Night. Three words. I only hear those words sung in the deep, cigarette-scarred voice of my maternal grandmother. It was her favorite holiday song even above Good King Wenceslas. She always lent her deep alto and hummed it in store aisles.
As a family, we sang holiday songs around the piano like a modern-day Little Women family. O Holy Night was her song. While I get chills from the Mariah Carey version, I can still my grandmother’s voice thirty years after her passing.
I wish I had asked why that particular song was her favorite. Was it depression-era frugality and constant fear there wouldn’t be enough leading her to belt out “and the soul felt its worth?” I looked up the song’s origins even as I guessed she didn’t know the song’s history. Hymns and holiday songs were moments to express joy and peace and worship. She wouldn’t have known about the French songwriter and that the song was banned by the church. She might not have known of the truce between French and German fighters when another tenor broke out into a battlefield rendition. The song was simply a holiday gift.
Knowing the song’s history couldn’t bring me closer to her or the holiday as her simple piano-accompanied version. When her voice dropped the song below the melody line, there was a depth and gravity to the words.
We sang the song at her funeral on a bitter, Midwest afternoon. The lines that stood out at those moments became “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and joyous morn”. As the cold winds blew around us, I could hear her voice echoing across the prairie once more. O Holy Night. And it was.
Here are some other popular versions of the classical hymn. Which one is your favorite?