Dec 2, 2010

Simplicity, Nostalgia, and Christmas Music

When I lived in Liberia, West Africa, one of the most popular songs that year of 1978 was a song by Prince Neco called “Simplicity.” I remember it because along with this Nigerian equivalent to N’sync’s other song, “Sweet Mother,” this song “Simplicity” played over and over and over again on the radio. The urge toward simple times and simple things is irresistible, even for Africans who in some ways might define simplicity for us Americans. We today, even in the West, call for a return to simple ideas and simpler life-styles, although, we defeat our desires by buying into a more hectic, not less hectic, way of doing everything. The Shakers help us put this desire into church music with their hauntingly simple tune our hymnal records as “Lord of the Dance” (#261, The United Methodist Hymnal).

Today we have a multitude of ways to interpret the good news of Jesus via music. Some of you have heard choirs and musical guests present an interpretation of Agnus Dei arranged by Mauldin. The Latin term Agnus Dei means, as you know, “Lamb of God.” Many high liturgical churches today will perform various moving pieces of music by that name. Some are in Latin, while others may be presented in Greek, or even Coptic.

However, with that high church music “heads up,” I ask you to consider another faith witness by the singing group, “The Whites.” They sing “Keep on the Sunny Side” from the award winning Compact Disc, “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life
But there’s a bright and a sunny side too
Though you meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side you also may view

Keep on the sunny side always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

Though the storm and its furies rage today
Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear
The clouds and storm will in time pass away
And the sun again will shine bright and clear

Let us greet with a song of hope each day
Though the moment be cloudy or fair
And let us trust in our Savior always
To keep us every one in His care
(A.P. Carter and Gary Garett, performed by the Whites).

This is the season of Advent and soon to turn to Christmas and music is an element that puts a little spring into our step. Thank goodness for music—especially this season.

1 comments :

Estee said...

One of the songs that I keep in my car is a version of "Simple Gifts" by Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist. I actually listened to it today. It is a "gift to be simple," and that is an important reminder during this season, that is anything but simple. Thanks David.

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