A group from my congregation (me included) went Christmas caroling last night, meaning I've got the lyrics of various carols still in my head today.
It also helps that I recently downloaded a free Christmas carol lyrics app on my iPad. It includes such traditional ones as "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," not to mention songs in German, French and other languages.
(Sometimes my English sounds like I'm singing in German or Italian.)
This music is the soundtrack for the Christmas season, and although I sometimes tire of it when I hear it too early in big box stores, there's something about carols that speaks to my heart.
Today is a good day to honor Christmas carols, for it was on this date in 1835 that Phillips Brooks (pictured here)was born. Who's he? The pastor who wrote "O Little Town of Bethlehem" for his Sunday school children after he visited in Holy Land in 1868.
I've always been especially moved, for some reason, by the line in the hymn that says, "How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n", as well as " The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
And at least for today, I don't want to hear from any of you smart people that some theologians doubt that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Just go with the music today.
(By the way, why are so many of us attracted to Christmas carols? A Johns Hopkins University researcher has an answer.)
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RELIGIOUS HATE CRIMES
A new report on hate crimes in the U.S. shows that about 20 percent of them have to do with religion. I wish I could say "we're better than that," but history shows us we're not. We could be, however. But it will require removal of fear and ignorance.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.