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Heartwings Love Notes 859 - The Carols of Christmas

Heartwings says, "The songs that last are the ones we love best."

One of my most precious childhood memories is of my mother with her violin tucked firmly under her chin, playing Silent Night on Christmas Eve. Though this carol is more modern, some of the traditional carols of Christmas date back to the 17th century or further. Others, like Silent Night (1818) and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, (1865) one of my father's big favorites, were more modern.

The words and melodies of Christmas hymns and carols have a magical effect. They connect us with our past, and not only our own personal past but the pasts of our ancestors who sang them. The oldhymnal of my father's Episcopal church had fascinating historical notes about the various Christmas carols as well as hymns. I often enjoyed perusing it while I was waiting for the service to begin. Whenever I have sung them I am always brought back to that church with its wonderful stained glass windows.

One of my favorite hymns, Of the Father's Love Begotten, has roots in the 10th century, and its majestic chords invoke the soaring European cathedrals that predate the discovery of America. There is a part of us all which has been called the collective unconscious that embraces the past encoded in our very bones and responds to the sounds of celebration throughout the centuries. For all of history, singing has been an important part of universally celebrated holidays like Christmas, New Year's and Easter.

These connections and others that we experience with the holidays heighten and expand how we feel. Our customs, too, connect us not only to our families but also to our ancestors as is fitting. Those who join Christmas carolers, for instance, are participating in a ritual that goes back centuries when children would go door to door in their villages begging treats and wishing the home owners Merry Christmas or Happy New Year.

The word carol actually means a dance of praise and joy. It may be that we no longer dance to any of the carols of Christmas yet they do indeed bring joy to the heart and happiness as we raise our voices in celebration of the season of peace and good will we call Christmas.

May you feel the joyous Christmas spirit of all the ages of celebration.
 

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Blessings and Best Regards,
Tasha Halpert
 

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