Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. The snow making the ground glitter, lights strung on trees and houses, the feeling of magic and companionship in the air, and the music. I love Christmas music. I love that you can turn on the radio and hear songs about Christ, I love Christmas caroling, and I love that I actually know the words to all of the songs, hehe. And I love beautiful choral music, like “Carol of Joy”.
I absolutely love this song. (I know I’ve used the word “love” way too much in this post already, but I do love it.) I heard it first two years ago, when we sang it in our church choir for our Christmas program. I fell in love with the piece then, and since that time, it’s grown to become one of my very favorite Christmas songs.
The words are written by Eileen Berry, and put to music by Dan Forrest. (Dan Forrest is exceptional at arranging gorgeous choral music, by the way.) You can listen to it here.
So the lyrics. These really are like poetry. Imagery, repetition, etc., and when it’s combined with music…it’s so powerful. Anyway, let me put them here:
Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows, Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song—
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music—hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song—
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound—
A carol of joy! A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted—witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn—
Now unto you, A Saviour is born!
I love those lyrics.
There’s that word “love” again… I think part of what makes them so powerful is that they use description and imagery. They paint a picture of this sad, fallen, lonely world, with the sun going down, covered in snow…and then it’s contrasted with these words about joy, and hope, and really, the message of Christmas.
And it applies to everyone. It may be a Christmas song, but it’s not talking about long ago when Christ was born. It’s talking about now. It’s talking about this earth, covered in pain, death, and loneliness. This earth, filled with evil and sorrow — but it tells us that, yes, there is hope! There is hope for every single one of us, no matter how dark it is, no matter how sad we feel.
That’s what makes these words so beautiful. What use to this world is a poem that doesn’t apply to us? What use is it if we hear the words but don’t understand how they can change us? There’s no point in poetry, in songs, in any sort of writing if it doesn’t affect people. It’s meant to be shared, and it’s meant to make people feel something.
This song makes me feel, and to me, that’s the beauty of it.