Archive for Bing Crosby

Advent Calendar Day 7: Good King Wenceslas

Posted in Music, Religion with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by bradellison

A Victorian carol inspired by the noble legends that grew up around Saint Wenceslaus of Bohemia, we have here a parable on generosity directed squarely at the rich.  While its brief inclusion in A Muppet Christmas Carol is therefore thematically very appropriate, it’s also a bit anachronistic, as the carol was written a decade after Dickens’ tale.

The music, as is so often the case, is much older.  Indeed, it’s a spring carol dating from about the 13th century.

For those of us not so well versed in our latin:

Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, day is fast reviving,
Life in all her growing powers towards the light is striving:
Gone the iron touch of cold, winter time and frost time,
Seedlings, working through the mould, now make up for lost time.

Herb and plant that, winter long, slumbered at their leisure,
Now bestirring, green and strong, find in growth their pleasure;
All the world with beauty fills, gold the green enhancing,
Flowers make glee among the hills, set the meadows dancing.

Through each wonder of fair days God Himself expresses;
Beauty follows all His ways, as the world He blesses:
So, as He renews the earth, Artist without rival,
In His grace of glad new birth we must seek revival.

Earth puts on her dress of glee; flowers and grasses hide her;
We go forth in charity—brothers all beside her;
For, as man this glory sees in th’awakening season,
Reason learns the heart’s decrees, hearts are led by reason.

That’ll preach.

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Advent Calendar Day 2: The Little Drummer Boy

Posted in Music, Religion with tags , , , , on December 3, 2012 by bradellison

This song is on the short list of department-store standards I can stomach.  It’s not a perfect song by any means, and I can’t much dispute any of Kyle Kinane’s arguments against it, but I like it.  Partly that’s because it’s a right pretty song, and that parumpumpumpum bit’s satisfying to the ear, and outright gratifying to sing.  Mostly it’s because of the sweetness of the little fable it gives.  It’s a little more treacly than I generally care for, but, well, it’s Christmas.

Here’s what “The Little Drummer Boy” tells us: the Christ may ask us to give everything we have, but he won’t ask for more than that.  Give yourself, and that’s enough, no matter how much or how little you’ve got to give.  And a broken and a contrite heart the Lord will not despise.  So don’t hold back when you devote yourself to the Way, but don’t be afraid of not measuring up.  The highest teaching of the Master is that we gain more than we can imagine when we give away our substance.  This is the way to live as a conduit for light.

One other reason I have a love for this song: