Notes on Christmas Eve



A favorite children’s  Christmas song asks “Do you hear what I hear?”  These few days before Christmas day dawns, there is music everywhere – in the grocery store, piped into elevators, volume turned high for busy shoppers on the sidewalk. I love playing with a handbell choir at church and singing the songs of Christmas. Time around the piano with carols sung every year is one of our most special traditions, along with listening to all the Christmas classics. But I realize the danger in over familiarity.  I want to listen to the words and thrill to the message of this music.

God, help me slow down

Help me be still enough to listen

for hallelujahs and joy to the world

for Singer and Song

for words that turn

announcing your coming

offering your promise

Help me to pay attention and be astonished

Give me your Song to sing

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the brothers,
To make music in the heart.
—  Howard Thurman

Sweet Singing


“The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:
O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.”

Since I am in two choirs at church, voice and handbell, and help with a youth handbell choir where I am privileged to ring standing  beside my granddaughter – I have more chances than many to sing and play the music of Christmas, and I love that.  This year I ordered some music to work on at the piano at home titled Advent Reflections.  Arthritic hands don’t play as well as they once did, but I have loved using that quiet, artfully arranged music to add to my Advent practice.  Tonight our family will gather to attend Christmas Eve communion at our church, then return to our house for what has become a tradition over the years:  tamales, guacamole, queso and tortillas followed by a gift exchange.  There will be more carols around the piano – sweet singing!

Does your family sing Christmas carols, or go caroling?  What are your favorite carols?

Christmas Afterglow


Christmas Afterglow

Christmas Afterglow

savoring Christmas gifts not in a box,

sweet echoes of laughter,

dear traditions of music and story


Savoring Christmas gifts not in a box,

candlelight burning steady,  strong

dear traditions of music and story

keeping and being kept, golden circle


Candlelight burning steady, strong

sweet echoes of laughter,

keeping and being kept, golden circle

Christmas afterglow.