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Community shares Christmas favorites

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Music is often a special part of Christmas celebrations and brings excitement to the season.

Some popular traditional songs for those asked were “Joy to the World” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

“‘Joy to the World’ is probably the most joyful of all,” Marsha Littleton said. “Now that the Savior has come, ‘He rules the world with truth and grace’ and true joy can be found in Him.”

She also mentioned “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Silent Night” as favorites.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” made her list because it “describes the background for the promised Messiah and the joyful assurance that He will come and save Israel. Fortunately, we’re included.”

Chanel Bingham also chose Joy to the World.

“I love this Christmas carol because it is a beautiful reminder to embrace the joy of the Christmas season,” Bingham said. “Just as Heaven and earth rejoiced at the birth of our Savior, I also want to be intentional in choosing joy and preparing both my heart and home for the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus.”

“O Come, O come Emmanuel” was also a favorite for Meghan Kelley.

“It can be a haunting sound that captures the deep pain and darkness that so many experience in life,” Meghan Kelley said. “But the refrain offers a bright exclamation of hope.”

Wes Kelley said “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was his favorite.

“The chorus is the simple desire of every Christian heart, to adore Jesus Christ, not just as a baby but as our Redeemer on the cross and our Living Hope at the empty tomb,” he said.

Gwen Alexander said her favorite Christmas song has changed with time.

“For years, my favorite Christmas song was ‘O Holy Night,’ a beautiful melody with words that paint a powerful mental picture,” she said. “More recently, however, my favorite has been ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ It has a simpler melody, also beautiful, but for me, the words are much more powerful, because they are more personal. The questions asked in that song really made me think about the birth of Jesus and what it was like for his young mother.”
“My favorite Christmas song is ‘Away in a Manger,’” Vanessa McKinney said. “The reason is because it is one of the first songs I learned as a child as my mom and dad would take us to church … It reminds me that not everyone is born in a cozy warm bed, but everyone is blessed by our heavenly Father! It reminds me the reason for this very season.”

Jason Green said he has some favorite carols and some favorite secular Christmas songs.

“I love the traditional hymn ‘O Holy Night’, specifically the second verse. The line ‘chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name, all oppression shall cease’ has always spoken to me,” Green said. “It really reflects what God chose to send Jesus. He breaks our chains, sets us free, declares peace in our lives and brings creation closer to each other.”

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is another favorite carol because of the “powerful” third and fourth verses talking about ‘hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth,’ but ‘God is not dead nor doth He sleep. Wrong shall fail, right prevails with peace on earth.’”

Secular Christmas songs Green loves include Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)” because “it epitomizes the esthetical beauty of the season” and Andy Williams singing “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” “because that is really the way Christmas is for me— the most wonderful time of the year.”

“White Christmas is also a favorite because I love Bing Crosby, and the movie by the same name as the song,” Green said.

Jeff Herron said “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” because it “reminds me of the cold weather and warm fire so nowhere to go but snuggle in the blankets and watch movies and the Christmas lights!”

Randy Reid said his favorite secular Christmas song was Silver Bells and has been for a long time.

“The lyrics of the song so embody the excitement I felt as a child growing up during the Christmas season,” Reid said. “It never fails to takes me back to me childhood days.”

As far as a traditional carol he may have sung at church, he enjoys so many of them it is hard to name just one.”

“Perhaps Hark the Harold Angels Sing,” Reid said. “It takes to the fields of Bethlehem as the shepherds received the news of the newborn King. What a frightful, yet glorious experience for the shepherds.”

Music can create special memories this time of year.

“When I was a young child, I heard the music of Christmas Eve in the candle-lit sanctuary,” Wes Kelley said. “It was then that first I felt the holiness of God’s presence. The awe and wonder inside those memories has shaped my heart and formed my imagination ever since.”

“When my sister and I were kids, we went to our grandparents’ house every Wednesday after school,” Meghan Kelley said. “Our grandmother had a small organ with music inside the bench. We would find books of Christmas carols and sing them at the top of our lungs outside in their carport.”

“Music has always been a huge part of my life, and the music of Christmas evokes memories of our family attending Christmas church services, our youth choir going caroling, and singing in our church choir cantatas and Chilton Civic Chorale programs,” Marsha Littleton said. “I can’t imagine Christmas without music!”

“I vividly remember standing with my sister between our parents in the church pew in northern Illinois, the smell of the wet wool as the snow on our winter coats melted, and the smell of the wax candles as they burned at the candlelight service,” Alexander said. “This year, I will stand with my family and also smell the wax of the candles as they burn, but now I am a grandmother. The carols are the same, though, and the way they make me feel is the same. All those people, voices raised in song, celebrating with music every year that so special birth.”