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Monday, December 6, 2010

Carol of Joy

I just was blessed to attend the First Presidency Devotional for Christmas this past Sunday.  It truly helped to put me into the Christmas mood.  What a wonderful time of year this is when we can focus on the things that are truly important.  That great and glorious story of Christ's birth.  As I think of the great celebrations to come, it always makes me miss Christmas in Europe.  Anyway, I hope you'll indulge me in a little Christmas moment:

In past years, the BYU Combined Choirs and Philharmonic Orchestra have ended their Celebration of Christmas concert with a rather amazing piece: Carol of Joy. This haunting portrayal of our lost world in spiritual winter and the human need of divine salvation can bring tears to your eyes as you recognize the glory and splendor of the gift offered to us by our Savior.

Eileen Berry is truly an a amazing poet. Her ability to paint a picture with her well-chosen words astounds me. As I read the text and marvel, I stand in awe at how every word has great importance in the scene she is setting. Never do you feel a word or phrase is thrown in just to fill a meter, never do you feel that a section is less thoughtful, nor that there is a section that isn't pensive and full of emotional vigor. Her words touch the heart and soul.

I implore each of you to read her beautiful text, ponder on her words, muse at the scene she has created, and let your mind wrap around the picture she has painted. Then, let your your mind move to the amazing gift offered to each of us by the Savior. "Jesus is born, your curse to destroy... you who are lonely, laden, forlorn, to you a Savior is born." Oh the exquisite joy of this statement. How it fills the soul.

Once you've read the words, you should listen to them put to music. Dan Forest's setting of Berry's text takes the whole experience to another level. He matches the tragedy and triumph, despair and hope; he gives it a whole new life. I've included a recording of the BYU performance of it.

As I rehearsed this song, its full meaning didn't come to me until I actually sat down and listened to it as I read the words. As I sat at my desk listening, tears streamed down my face as I put into perspective the meaning of the text in my life.  No matter how bruised I feel, no matter how laden or forlorn, no matter how burdened or bound, we can always look up and witness God's love. I hope that you all enjoy this as much as I have!

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows, Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!

Oh fallen world, to you is the song—
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music—hopeful and bright!

Oh fearful world, to you is the song—
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound—
A carol of joy! A Savior is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted—witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!

Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn—
Oh fallen world! Oh fearful world! Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Savior is born!

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