Friday, December 07, 2007
The Christmas season is upon us, and I've actually been listening to Christmas music this year. I normally make a point of not listening to Christmas carols, if only because the type you tend to hear are songs like "Feliz Navidad" and Paul McCartney's truly horrid "Wonderful Christmas." I really like Christmas hymns ("The First Noel" especially so), but I have a hard time listening to schmaltz in any form. Last year, however, I managed to pick up a copy of Sufjan Stevens' fantastic Songs for Christmas (which I had as my fifth-best album of 2006), and I've been listening to it to and from work. Stevens writes some really solid music, and though this is mostly gimmicky, it's still really good. He has a balance of traditional hymns ("Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" makes an appearance) with his own originals ("Hey Everybody, It's Christmas Time!"). It makes for a pleasant, soothing commute.
Listening to Stevens' music, though, has had an effect that I did not anticipate. For the first time in quite a while, I find my thoughts centered on Jesus Christ during the season of the holiday commemorating His birth. In recent years, I've been so wrapped up in school and other things that that true spirit of Christmas has fallen by the wayside. This year, it's almost hard not to think of the Savior, though. How can I not when I'm listening to songs like "Little Drummer Boy" and "Once in Royal David's City"? What might be even stranger, though, is that the primarily Protestant doctrines mentioned in the songs ("God in three persons, blessed Trinity," for example) is strengthening my faith in my own decidedly not Protestant church. If anything, I've heard the contrasts more clearly than I would have normally.
It's a really good set of songs, dear readers. You'd do well to pick it up, or at the very least listen to the streaming audio he's made available on his website. It's good for the soul.