I was pouring myself another cup of coffee when the student sitting at her laptop looked up and said, “What’s your favourite carol?” I grinned and answered, “I doubt you know it – I love ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’!”
I was right. She didn’t know it – so we pulled up youtube on her computer and hunted it down (you can find it here – turns out my favourite version by Maddy Prior isn’t available…) We listened together. And then hunted down the lyrics, and sat and talked about why I love the imagery of this song.
She looked at me and said, “It’s a soul song. Most Christmas carols in the malls and stores aren’t. They are all about ‘home’. I never noticed that before this year, but they are all sentimental about going home – and home isn’t always so great, and then the songs about it are depressing.”
We talked some more about how Christmas gets marketed, and how hard all the nostalgia is to deal with. Then I let her go back to studying, and I went into my office. Before long, her own favourite soul song had been posted to my facebook page (‘O holy night’ – and here’s the version she posted.)
It’s not that popular carols can’t be ‘soul songs’ too. I remember a couple of years ago, being terribly grumpy in a store at this time of year. It was crowded and I was tired and it all seemed dreadful. Then from the next aisle, I could suddenly hear a voice singing along with the Christmas ‘muzak’ playing in the background. I peeped around the end of the shelves. Sure enough, there was a middle-aged woman, looking at ornaments as she sang loudly “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” She wasn’t self-conscious at all, with her hips swaying slightly. I smiled, and left the store humming under my breath. And I gotta confess – that particular song has been less annoying ever since!
So do you have a soul song for this season? Something that feeds you? What reminds you of the joy we are celebrating, and helps you deal with the difficult emotions that this season always brings? Or causes you to pause in the middle of the chaos and listen? What soundtrack has God written on your heart?
“Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love
This have I done for my true love…”
(from Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day)