12.26.2009

In Which I Grit My Teeth at a 'Seeker-Friendly'- Christmas Eve Service

We went to B's parent's church on Christmas Eve. A big, main-line denomination. I didn't have huge expectations; I assumed it would be a standard service- 'Silent Night', a show-boaty rendering of  'O, Holy
Night', maybe a bell choir.We were going out of deference to B's family; as I said, not a lot of expectations. I figured an hour of lite carols and candles, and then we'd be home.
  Well, it took me quite a while to climb out of my irritation. I'm not sure why but the church felt the need to start off the night with 4 or 5 of the most insipid secular Christmas songs ever to spew out of a Muzak mall speaker. 'Let it Snow!', 'Rudolph', 'White Christmas',and my personal enemy of Christmas carols, 'Silver Bells', sung slowly and reverently. ("As the shoppers....... rush home with........ their treasures!') Probably the apex of the horrible sing-along was when we were all bidden to follow along with the singers on 'Frosty the Snowman'-"Thumpety thump thump! Thumpety thump thump! Look at Frosty go!" Eventually, they thought they could spring the subject of Jesus on us, now that we had sung a sufficient number of 'fun' songs. I think this was a 'seeker-friendly' thing, like we'll get them nice and comfy with our holly jolly Christmas and then whammo! Hit them with Jesus!
I kept thinking, Hello! We're in the church! Expecting to talk about Jesus! It's Christmas Eve, for goodness sake! It took me a while to calm down. Not only do we not have to hide the fact that we're celebrating the birth of Jesus, we have an awful lot of history and culture down through the ages from which to draw! Like this:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.


King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.


Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.


At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!


I love the imagery of Christ descending to earth from the realms of endless day, blessing in His hand. 
'Let All Mortal Flesh' was originally derived from the 'Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn', taken from the Litany of James which was written sometime in the 4th century. It is quite old and still packs a lyrical punch.
Now, I'm not surprised this church didn't include 'Let All Mortal Flesh' in their choral line-up, most churches don't. But I am saying that there is a deep and varied history of hymnody within the Christian church, 2,000 years of music, passed down through the ages. Would it be so hard to draw from some of these, and leave 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Frosty the Snowman' to the mall carolers? I'm just saying.

(Thumpety thump thump! 
Thumpety thump thump! 
Look at Jesus go!)

But sometimes you just gotta get silly:

1 comment:

sarah said...

yes. i totally, completely and utterly agree.

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.