Christmas is here, and after today it’s time to put away the CDs, delete the playlists and in my case store the vinyl records. But while we’re still officially in the Christmas season, I need to air some issues I have with one carol in particular. This carol used to be a favorite of mine, then as I sat in my car one day waiting for it to end, listening intently to the words I found myself scratching my head.
According to ASCAP’s (THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS) Top Ten most played Christmas songs of this year, the only song that mentions Jesus’ birth comes in at number 8. Hearing this deepened my frustration since the song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is not an accurate representation of Christ’s birth. (See what the other 9 songs were here)
The song plays like a game of telephone, starting with the night wind asking a little lamb, “Do You see What I See?” then the lamb asks the shepherd, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The shepherd goes to the “Mighty King” in his palace warm and asks, “Do You Know What I Know?” The King then declares to the people everywhere, “Pray for peace people everywhere…The child, sleeping in the night, will bring us goodness and light.”
The song starts simple enough, wind talking to lamb, that’s believable right? I can even get past the lamb talking to the shepherd, I am sure it gets lonely out there and they may have conversations all the time. When the shepherd goes to the king is where the wheels begin falling off the bus. The writers of the song go the extra mile to let us know that the mighty king lives in a palace warm and the that this child is freezing in the cold. What do they suggest to bring the child? Blankets is what you want to say as a human with a heart. But… NO! Silver and gold, they declare that they need to take him silver and gold. I guess maybe he could buy a blanket with his new-found fortune? Also, why not offer to bring this child into your palace so warm that just HAD to be mentioned earlier?
Now to the Jesus stuff, if this song is about the birth of Jesus, the writers are cray, cray (that means crazy in case you’re lost). We know from the Gospel of Matthew that Herod the Great was king at the time of Christ’s birth. He was not about to welcome the birth of the savior and gave orders for the child to be killed. Herod also never met the shepherds, only the Magi who saw the star, not the shepherds (A star, a star, Dancing in the night, with a tail as big as a kite.)
This song that I thought held such rich meaning to me in the holidays, is actually a horribly inaccurate retelling of Christmas Eve. It now ranks right between Marry Did You Know and Christmas Shoes.
I will let it go for the next 11 months, I promise I won’t dwell on it. There are more important issues in the world for me to devote brain power on, like figuring out who the heck Randolph is in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.