English Lyrics: William Morris, 1834-1896
Music: traditional French tune 17th century
Masters in this Hall, hear ye news to-day
Brought from over sea – and ever I you pray;
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell! Nowell, sing we clear
Holpen are all folk on earth, born is God’s son so dear:
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell! Nowell, sing we loud
God to-day hath poor folk raised, and cast a-down the proud…
Going o’er the hills, through the milk-white snow
Heard the ewes bleat while the wind did blow
Then to Bethlem town we went two by two,
And in a sorry place, heard the oxen low
Therein did we see a sweet and goodly maid
And a fair old man – upon the straw she lay
This is Christ the Lord – Masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in, and no folk should be sad…
I don’t know this YouTube artist from Adam – but he’s pure genius!
Santa Claus is a fat excuse foisted upon children by atheists and religious folk alike who, consciously or not, have aligned themselves with a culture of mindless consumerism. He is the last bloated burp of a shopaholic glutton who began overindulging on Halloween, right through so-called Thanksgiving into the tinseled, beribboned present. Santa is a tacky old man of dubious origins and intentions.
Tragicomic/ironic that a season held sacred by pagans and Christians can be reduced to soulless marketing and propaganda to buy more stuff. But it remains a glorious holiday with a vibrant past worth exploring. I love the Roman/Nordic heritage from Saturnalia/Yuletide as well as the medieval elements of Christmas. For several years my grade-school music teacher was John Langstaff who founded the Christmas Revels. As a wise-ass kid I mocked and derided the show every time well-meaning parents dragged me to see it. Now I love the Revels (The 1980’s pre-PC version that is… available on CD). For me, the Christmas Revels showcase the best and truest of what the holiday contains. Christians and pagans ought to work together to protect the essentials of the season from the infernal data-driven marketing machine. It is wrong and it is evil to make a spiritual tradition into a materialistic blow-out. One way to resist this phenomenon is to analyze it.
I used to teach 7th graders. I was surprised at how upset many of them were when told about the formulation of Santa Claus and the accompanying shopping-mall trappings of Xmas in the U.S.A. These were spoiled suburblings for the most part – they were peeved that anyone would dare inform them of any reality beyond their distracted lives of plenty. I felt like sending them to Southern Sudan most of the time.
The role of the Coca Cola corporation in consolidating the image of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) more than a century after his makeover in the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nick” by a Columbia professor of ancient literature is well documented. But behind these recent pop-culture ploys looms the figure of an old bishop in a conical hat (not worn in the magnificent painting by Russian Ilya Repin at left) who was known for his acts of faith and for helping the poor of his native Mysia in Asia Minor during the 4th century.
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (or for God-hating PC progressives “A Winter Celebration Fantasy“) was published 20 years after Moore’s St Nick poem – which I did not know until researching this post. One of the highlights of Christmas for me is hearing the entire story read on the radio. Blessed be NPR for that, at least… Dickens’ fable captures, in a more overtly Gospel way, what Christmas should be about. I always get teary during the visit of the spirits and when Scrooge gets saved at the end.
Christmas is about what is Holy and what is Profane. It an ineffable recurring mystery and the light of eternal Truth invading the present darkness. It is defined by the concept of a freely-given Gift.
That’s why I still love Christmas.
Have a merry globally diverse human-centered winter festival.
PS: I couldn’t care less when He was actually born