Friday, October 4, 2013

What's on Your Playlist?

(Or why it's ok to play Christmas music year 'round)

A 10 year old boy was sitting in my office waiting for his mother. He suddenly looked at me and said, "Hey! This song is from Prince of Egypt!" I listened for a moment as Brian Stokes Mitchell's voice nobly questioned, "If a man lose ev'rything he owns Has he truly lost his worth? Or is it the beginning of a new and brighter birth?".

"Why are you playing that here?" he asked. (It's a little bit funny what some people think is appropriate music for my office waiting area. Like the guy who questioned William Joseph's piano only version of Led Zepplin's Kashmir.) I'm not sure what this boy thought, but I'm sure it surprised him to hear something he recognized and obviously knew well. I like the message of the song and thought it was very appropriate for a counseling office: 

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life, 
Look at your life through Heaven's Eyes.

Later that day, a friend said she was looking for new 'workout' music and asked what I listened to when I walked. And that got me thinking about playlists. 

We all have them, lists of music that we like to listen to for different occasions. I love Spanish Guitar, especially on Saturday afternoons, with the windows open and a breeze gently rustling. I love good jazz, especially on Friday nights, when I need to unwind after a long week at work. Christmas music, though, inspires me in ways that are difficult to explain. 

And then I thought, "What would happen to people if we did listen to Christmas music all year long?"

The haunting melodic voice of Mindy Gledhill singing "In the Bleak Mid-winter" can soothe a dark windy day and reminds me to warm my heart with service:
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air,
But His mother only in her maiden bliss, 
Worshipped the Beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, Poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb, 
If I were a wise man I would do my part, 
Yet what I can I give Him, Give my heart.
And the jovial melody of Carol of the Bells (ok, my favorite version is by the California Guitar Trio) seems to free my feet, and I can dance through almost anything. More importantly, it frees my heart:

        Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells,
All seem to say throw cares away....
Gaily they ring, while people sing
          Songs of good cheer....

(who doesn't needs some good cheer?)

Then there is the gentle lullaby we sing to sleeping grandchildren, that entreats us to receive the Savior:

          O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,
          Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by"...
          How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is giv'n!
          So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav'n.
          No ear may hear His coming; but in this world of sin,
          Where meek souls will receive him, still The dear Christ enters in.

Not too long ago, on an incredibly warm (that's an understatement) summer day, I found myself in a mood that did not match the happy laughter of the children playing nearby. Those moods don't strike me often, but they do come. On this day, it seemed as if every little comment, as tender and kind as it might have been, made me cry. Some days are like that. 

I said a prayer; I needed to feel some joy, to lift my mood. The day was full of places to go and people to see, so when I got in the car to travel to another destination, I quickly flipped through my playlists, looking for something peaceful. I landed on a Vocal Point album, Lead Thou Me On, which is mainly an album of hymns. But the first song that played that tearful summer day was, you guessed it, a Christmas song. Just the perfect one: 

           Infant holy, Infant lowly, for His bed a cattle stall;
           Oxen lowing, little knowing, Christ the Babe is Lord of all....

As the song continued, I remembered anew the reason for it all...the reason for all that we do on this earth, why we are here and Who is most important to our existence. Peace overpowered my dark mood, I felt strength to go on, given from One who gives us both. 

           Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow:
            Christ the Babe was born for you, Christ the Babe was born for you!

It's a thought that needs to be heard- and felt- more often than just the month of December, wouldn't you agree? 

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