My Old Kentucky Home…

I meant to post this on Monday as a post-Sunday post, but Monday was Christmas Eve and I was doing Christmas Eve-y things, like hanging out with friends (“old” friends – ones that I’ve known for as long as I can remember), watching Christmas movies, and going to church. And then, of course, Tuesday was Christmas, which was full of Christmas-y things like family and presents and food and naps. So here it is Wednesday (technically early Thursday) and I remembered that I never posted this. So here it is, a bit late!

Sunday was the fifth Sunday this year that I wasn’t at my church (last year, I missed six!). I always hate being away, but was glad to receive communications that all went well. On the flip side, I’m thrilled to be at home with my family in Kentucky. I attended church with my family, and ended up playing the piano for their services. This is a small church (a very small church compared to the one I regularly attend and blog about), so I walked in a few minutes before the service, met with the song leader, and we picked the songs for the morning service.

You may recall that my Least Favorite Christmas Song is “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and is generally banned not part of our Christmas song rotation at church. Thus, I’ve made it three weeks into December without having to deal with the LFCS. This morning, as we discussed the options for the service (mostly Christmas songs), I was thinking about what to say if The Song came up. Thankfully, it didn’t.

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

However, I played the evening service, too, and the LFCS was suggested. For a brief moment, I considered going along with it. And then I came to my senses. I made some innocuous comment about not feeling comfortable playing the song (technically, that’s true) and suggested another. The song leader acquiesced, and all was well!

I’ve made a new tradition of attending a late night Christmas Eve service at a fancy church in town, and this year was no different. Thankfully, they used “Forest Green” again, so I can officially declare this year “O Little Town of Bethlehem” free.

Merry Christmas (and now Happy Boxing Day), y’all!

“Forest Green” Saves the Day!

My least favorite Christmas song is “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” My dislike of the song is fairly arbitrary, but it’s pretty much the melody that I don’t care for. I’m certain there are many more annoying Christmas songs than this one (and I realize that my favorite Christmas song is likely on numerous “least favorite Christmas song” lists). Nevertheless, as of today, I have successfully avoided having to sing this song in church this Christmas season.

Worship Pastor is generally kind to honor my dislike of this song by not using it in our services (I apologize to those whose vocal chords pine to sing the song at my church), so I wasn’t too concerned about encountering the song for the first few weeks of December. But upon returning home this weekend, I wasn’t so sure.

It was actually quite a close call, considering I attended three church services this weekend. I went to the candlelight Christmas Eve service with my parents at their church and was all clear. Later that evening, I attended another candlelight Christmas Eve service at an Episcopal church (to get my high-ish church fix and to hear the fabulous choir and organist). Imagine my dismay upon seeing this as I perused the program:

Not once, but TWICE on the program! I could no longer avoid the song.

But just when I thought I would have to capitulate and sing that chromatic melody (if you’ve memorized The Hymnal 1982, you already know what’s coming), Hymn 109 in The Hymnal 1982 is actually “The First Noel.” It was a misprint! While the editor in me was tsk-tsk-ing away, I was, of course, relieved.

However, I believed this printing oversight was just delaying the inevitable. As communion commenced, I turned to Hymn 78 to see it was indeed “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” but the organist’s introduction didn’t sound familiar! The tune was not “St. Louis (Redner),” but instead “Forest Green!” Hymn 79 in The Hymnal 1982 is the melody that is most commonly associated with the song, while Hymn 78 is a lovely little English melody that was adapted and harmonized by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

My dislike of the song isn’t strong enough to say that these turns of print and melody were a Christmas Eve Miracle, but I must say, it was a pleasant little surprise. Consequently, I was quite confident the song would not show up this morning… and it didn’t.

The text of this carol is quite lovely and since I’m typing this at the end of Christmas day, it’s quite appropriate to quote verse two here:

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And peace to men on earth

Merry Christmas, y’all!