A few years ago, during a very difficult time in my life, I rediscovered Christmas carols. I’m not exactly sure what prompted this discovery, but I found myself one year downloading a wide variety of contemporary, and often artistically quite interesting, recordings of Christmas carols and put together the first of a series of musical mixes for Advent which remain a regular part of my life today. Each year I hang out for the first available opportunity to pull out my favourite Christmas music, and the feeling it fills me with each time is often one of joy.
But Christmas is not always a joyful time. For some, the time spent with family is trying and challenging, not enriching. For others, it is simply difficult to be joyful at any time of year, with Christmas being no exception. In fact, there are times when the absence of joy becomes all the more painful for the visible joy of others around us.
I myself can relate to this struggle. Much as I love Advent, joy is not usually something which is forthcoming in my life and, when I stop listening to Christmas carols and start to confront my base level of emotion, the difference can often be stark.
One night earlier this week I was at a particularly low ebb, and was prompted by my emotional state to sit down at my piano and write this song for Christmas 2012. It is not in any senses a perfect song but it expresses something of the meaning that I think we can take from Christmas even when our emotional state feels far from what we think it should be at this time of year. I have attached a recording of the song (fairly shoddy, I’m afraid) and am including the lyrics below so that you can read them to make up for my poor enunciation. My prayer as you listen to this song is that Christ’s life and love might fill you, whatever the state of your heart today.
The Broken Carol (click to listen to audio)I was born to a heart already stained with dirt I was born to a home already locked from hope And if you looked inside you would surely find Nothing to welcome you in. We were born into lives already dead from the start We were born to a world broken at the heart And when you looked inside you would not find Anything there to redeem. You were born as a man among the fallen men You were born into tears and you cried with us And as you lived you knew our pain And you showed us the way. You were born among us the only perfect man You walked beside us showing life made whole We turned from you; you called to us We knew not what we had done. You were born to a world with no room for you You were born to a life which you lived to give And when you looked down upon us You saw with joy what you’d done.