Is it Over Yet?

We have weathered another season of “seasonal” music. The first time I heard Christmas music this year was at a drug store in late October. We hadn’t even celebrated Halloween yet! The fact that we have virtually ignored All Saints Day, several other church holidays in November and then flatly run over Thanksgiving in favor of the commercial viability of Christmas and the music that goes with it is rather sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas music. I have feasted on some especially fine arrangements and new works in choral and instrumental performances this season, but can’t we make certain distinctions? When our sacred music gets mixed up with buying batteries or pain relievers in October–well, it makes me want to take a stronger pain reliever.

This brings us back to one of the earlier topics we discussed. Where and when does sacred music belong? I believe that a seasonal concert is an extension of the sacred experience and, even, in the best cases, verges on worship.

I also have come to realize that many ensembles are beginning to mix the sacred with slightly “lighter” fare in order to please more ears. It’s sacred music light. I can understand trying to appeal to more audience members–in these economic times, it has to be done–but it doesn’t have to be done in October.

I hope all of you were able to experience the joy of the season through the most breathtaking music that could be offered. On the radio and in concert I heard some of the best that is out there. Blessings to you in this new year.

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One thought on “Is it Over Yet?

  1. paulhmuller

    I sing in our church choir and every year celebrating Advent seems to get more difficult. Always the congregation members ask “Where are the Christmas carols?” – this in November. We have to do our best to hold off until Christmas actually occurs in the Lutheran calendar – Dec 25 through Jan 6. We usually have a hymn fest during the first Sunday in Christmas – we sing whatever carols are requested during the service.

    This last Sunday – ostensibly the “Celebration of the Baptisim of Our Lord” we sang Go Tell It on the Mountain” one last time, overlooking what must be several hundred tunes from the Baptist tradition that, for once, would have been appropriate. But there was too little rehearsal time over the busy holidays to prepare anything new.

    Properly done sacred music during the holiday season can be an important way to keep commercialism from overwhelming the Christian calendar. But at the local parish level, at least, this is becoming ever more difficult as people have less time and less enthusiasm for the traditional forms, while the contemporary music in the church seems to have more in common with the consumer culture.

    So the question needs to be asked: Can new music provide a sacred – yet contemporary – sensibility to the season? Is this being done in a church somewhere with any success?

    Reply

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