I know I’m not the first to say this, but Christmas music is among my very favorite music. So much of it is just so right. Unlike so many songs where the music seems to be just a stylistically neutral vehicle for the words, Christmas music often exhibits a nearly perfect wedding of text and music (within the limitations of the strophic paradigm, of course).
I sang (try not to laugh) in my small local church choir for Christmas. We do OK for what we are, a group of amateurs with limited rehearsal time, and lots of enthusiasm. But we were elevated beyond our ensemble’s ability by the material we sang. And hardened musical warrior that I am, I confess to a few chills here and there in especially nice spots in the music.
Now, don’t get me wrong: if you’ve read previous posts here, you know that I’m deeply skeptical of communication in music. But I will say that the musical elements in many Christmas songs are ones that I respond to: modal elements, particular melodic turns that support the lyric, and so on. And let’s face it, the lyrics of many Christmas songs are just among the very best.
On the other hand, maybe it’s just because I grew up hearing this particular music in especially happy and meaningful times. However, there’s plenty of other music that I don’t like for which I should have equally good associations. So I have to believe it has something to do with the quality of the music.
Happy New Year to all!