“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and
– Hudson Taylor
Let’s begin our 2009 Christmas concert with a few lighthearted favorites:
- “Sleigh Ride” by the Boston Pops
- Norman Rockwell would be proud of this musical presentation.
- And this Doggy Christmas Special
The theme of this year’s concert is “The Twelve Miracles of Christmas.” In spite of the title I promise to not subject you to that annoying song about a partridge in a pear tree. Instead, we’ll celebrate with music and drama, God’s intervention in the world as it relates to the Christmas story.
Miracle #1 — Every birth is a miracle! Here’s a song by Rachel Aldous celebrating the blessed event(s) in every parent’s life.
Miracle #2 — How unique and special is a God who wraps Himself in flesh and enters the world in human form to live among us? The next two songs capture the power of this thought.
Miracle #3 — The virgin birth of a special child named Jesus, who was both God and man, was both Mary’s burden and blessing as she carried and gave birth to a child who is the long-promised Messiah.
Miracle #4 — Christ’s birth, life, and death were foretold in amazing detail many hundreds of years before. Prophecy is a miracle.
- Enjoy “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” from Handel’s “The Messiah.”
Miracle #5 — The purpose and legacy of Jesus are alive today despite government and religious leaders who feared him and tried to kill him as a baby. They also tried to solve “the Jesus problem” by crucifying him. (see: a dramatic excerpt from “The Passion of the Christ“) Throughout the centuries, opposition in all shapes and sizes have tried to stop the spread Christ’s message by killing his followers. They’ve also tried (and still do, to this day) to make the name of Christ illegal. Yet, the legacy of Jesus miraculously thrives.
Miracle #6 — Soldiers were sent to kill the baby Jesus, but could not find him. Conversely, shepherds and three kings sought and found Jesus, with the help of an angel and a star, and worshiped him, thus demonstrating the protective hand and sovereignty of God.
Miracle #7 — The Bible is a collection of documents, by multiple authors, written in several languages, spanning centuries and yet is perfectly self-consistent. This sacred book is also corroborated with other ancient writings and archaeological evidence and is perhaps the most thoroughly scrutinized document in human history. Just as amazing is the quality and quantity of preservation of original and early manuscripts, greater than any other ancient documents, by orders of magnitude! The Bible has withstood everything man can throw at it. God is surely present in His word.
- “He Is” by Aaron Jeffrey
Miracle #8 — The babe born in a stable grew up and became well-known for miracles like healing the sick, blind, deaf, and lame, raising people from the dead, walking on water and other supernatural acts. Witnesses understood that this kind of power can only come from God.
- “Mary Did You Know?” trademark song of Mark Lowry
Miracle #9 — Christ’s resurrection is one of the most hotly contested events of all time. Opponents believe this is the key to discrediting the divinity of Christ. There is actually sufficient evidence without it to confirm that Jesus is who he said he is leading me to believe that His resurrection, as miraculous as it was, becomes less essential as proof and more about His crowning glory.
- Enjoy this famous resurrection hymn performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Miracle #10 — The Gospel message is the most important miracle. No human could have conceived or executed such a perfect plan for humanity. Without Christ to model grace, mankind would never have understood it.
- “Above All” by Michael W. Smith
Miracle #11 — The Christmas story continues through the unprecedented impact Christ has had on specific individuals and collectively upon humanity for 2000 years of history. America itself is the result of divine intervention. The fact that freedom is a hallmark of both America and the Christian faith is not a coincidence, it’s a miracle.
Miracle #12 — Christmas has a unifying effect. It brings people together like no other celebration. Enemies put down their swords. Strangers tend to be more polite and helpful toward each other. When we can’t be together literally, the season seems to draw people together emotionally. Let’s take our cue from Josh Groban’s tribute to our service men and women with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
Earlier this year I spent a few days in New Orleans where I was learning about the future of digital communications (i.e. VoIP and video calling.) New Orleans does not seem to have the spunk it had the last time I visited. It was probably the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina and possibly too, the city was taking a deep breath before Mardi Gras got into full swing.
Besides Mardi Gras, New Orleans is perhaps best known for its jazz. Like many musical styles, jazz comes in different flavors. Some of the music I enjoy is like jazz in the sense that it is hard to categorize by a single style. For example, which category defines a group like Chicago (one of my top 5 faves.) Compare their songs “Beginnings”, “Color My World”, and “25 or 6 to 4” and you’ll understand what I mean. I could make a similar case for the Gaither Vocal Band.
“Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.” — Virgil (70 BC – 19 BC), Eclogues
These examples hint of my preference for music with brass and/or male voices. I am especially fond of a cappella men’s singing, such as barbershop quartet singing. Traditional barbershop songs have lyrics that reflect a simpler time. Wrap them in a singable melody with tight barbershop harmonies and you have a distinctive sound that most people recognize even if they can’t define it.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much barbershop music is on YouTube. Barbershop quartets today also sing non-barbershop songs in a quasi barbershop style. Below, you’ll find a few samples of a capella singing, most done in the barbershop style. The music is intended for all — some of the link captions are intended for my barbershop friends.
- Harold Hill lives in Kentucky
- The Truth about men
- The Lone Ranger
- Warm thoughts in January
- Still a kid
- Doing a gig with Bill Gaither
- Sly down under?
- Awesome Joe
- Makin’ fun of Awesome Joe
- Take 5 for a cup of Joe
- Take 6
- E-Bay eat your heart out!
- Classical barbershop?
- A bouncy love song
- No one sells a love ballad better
- It Is Well
- The Stars and Stripes
- Encore: A suggestion for our commander-in-chief
“Dance as if no one’s watching, sing as if no one’s listening, and live every day as if it were your last.” — Irish proverb
© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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