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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Seasonal Musical Musing

Hi all! The Wednesday Festival is on a brief Advent sabbatical, and will return after Christmas Day. You're certainly welcome to post links with blog recommendations in the comments. In the meantime, a few RevGals will be bringing you bonus Musical Musings with a seasonal slant.

This week's theme is simple: Advent/Christmas music that isn't happy-clappy. Not that there is anything wrong with rockin' around the Christmas tree; it's just that we all need to contemplate around the Christmas tree, too. These two albums are my soundtrack for quiet nights. They are best paired with a hot drink and a cozy blanket.

#1: Holiday Songs and Lullabies by Shawn Colvin
This is an old family favorite. Ever since it came out in 1998, my immediate family has been moderately obsessed with this album; at one point there might have been a kerfluffle because "someone" (who, me?) had taken off with my Dad's copy, but we've all given in and invested in our own. It's simple, understated, folksy, beautiful. Aesthetically speaking, it is the polar opposite of my neighbors' new 10 foot inflatable nativity
decorations. "Love Came Down at Christmas" and "In the Bleak Midwinter" are standouts, but really, the whole album is a classic.

#2 Snow Angels by Over the Rhine(MP3 link here)
Anyone who has happened upon my blog or spoken to me for longer than, oh, four-and-a-half minutes knows that I am a raving fan of this little band from Cincinnati, so you can't be TOO surprised that I'd take another opportunity to hail my beloved OtR. I'm telling you - this one is amazing. Nearly all of the songs are original, but somehow come off sounding every bit as classic as the classics. "North Pole Man" will make you blush it's so saucy, and then "Little Town" will make you weep it's so prophetic. They start out with the original lyrics to "O Little Town of Bethlehem," but break into a contemporary prayer for peace. "The lamplit streets of Bethlehem/ We walk now through the night/ There is no peace in Bethlehem/ There is no peace in sight." It's music that searches for light in the darkness, love in the loneliness, Christ in the shadows - and somehow finds everything it's looking for. Because they're so cool and all, you can actually listen to the whole album on their website - just click on the record player.

I hope this music brings you the quiet, lasting joy it has brought me.



  1. Wow. I watched the video over on the Amazon site for Over the Rhine's "All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue".


    Thanks for these suggestions. I have about had it with rocking around the Christmas tree.

  2. oh my, the Snow Angels' music is awesome - didn't watch the video, but went to the website to listen to it i n its entirety. Think I am going to get it today.

  3. Thank you for this. I am looking forward to enjoying them...

    Also, I knew, sort of, Shawn Colvin in the 1970's when she was the local fav in Carbondale, IL, where I went to college. It's been amazing to watch her career....

  4. Shawn Colvin's Christmas album is one of my favorites too. And thanks for the introduction to Over the Rhine. I have to put in a plug for James Taylor's newish one, from last year, I think. My son said his voice is "too monotone". But he's 10. He likes The Chipmunk's Christmas.... I am also liking my two A Very Special Christmas compilations. Natalie Merchant singing "Children Go Where I Send Thee" gets repeated a lot.

  5. "All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue" was just on Entertainment Weekly's best-Christmas-bummers list... don't know if that's a universal selling point. It is a gorgeous yet sad song that can still "get" me after I've listened to it so many times. There's definitely some more melancholy where that came from, but fake happy depresses me more than real melancholy anyway.

  6. Thanks Katherine--I love Shawn Colvin, so that's one I need to buy. I actually have a WedFest submission that can't wait until Epiphany: post 333

  7. Thanks for these recommendations. I may grab the Shawn Colvin one soon.

    A bit of Wednesday Festival fare for Advent: check out our liturgically appropriate yard art.

  8. Nice choices!

    I'm seeking Advent practices, here.

  9. I just want to say how glad I am to have found this blog!!

    I'm not a RevGal yet, but I am "discerning a call to ministry". That sounds so formal. What's actually happening is I have stopped laughing at God (me? You have got to be kidding!!) and am sort of "leaving it in the air" to see what develops.

    And deepening my spiritual practice.

    Anyway, I have fallen in love with this blog!!

    And I'm about to go check out the albums you recommended.


  10. I am attempting to tell Mary's version of the story without adding too much to the Biblical text. See her letter to Joseph and let me know what you think.

  11. Hmmm, link doesn't seem to work.

    Try this

  12. Bummer about Wed lists taking a break. I was looking forward to sharing my post on "Pastor Stalkers"

  13. I love that Shawn Colvin album too. I also recommend Sarah McLachlan's latest, "Wintersong" (an amazing version of "The First Noel").

    My own favorite Advent/Christmas albums are from my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University's Choir of the West. St. Olaf, Luther College, and Concordia in Moorhead also have amazing, amazing choirs and beautiful Christmas albums.

  14. I listened to several clips from Snow Angels...loved it and think I'm buying one for me and one for my son. Thanks!

  15. My wife (who is not yet a RGBP member) just started her church's blog. She's starting it with a big bang - the first post is on A Protestant Rosary. Take a look, and leave a comment!

    ...and I'll try that Paster Stalkers link again.

  16. Katherine, thanks for these great albums. I'm listening to "Snow Angels" right now - the best word I can think of to describe it is "haunting."

  17. I just ordered the Holiday Songs and Lullabies!!

    Can't wait to get it :).

  18. Try Steve Bells' Advent album Feast of Seasons, for original, splendid music in the folk style (yes, i am definitely a fan):

    But I am not good at posting Links! :)

  19. Thanks so much! I was aware of Shawn Colvin but not Over the Rhine (since I've been over the Rhine a few more times than some people and don't always keep up with newer music). Great, great,album, I think I will need to get it.

  20. Thanks for the OTR recommendation! Excellent music.

    I'm musing on Christmas commercialism today ... here's the post.


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