The music of Christmas is a special ornament of the holiday tree. I've been enjoying the rhythms of the season for the last couple weeks, and I imagine you have, too.
While I could certainly utilize my record player any time of year, it spins most frequently during December. The sounds of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole fill the house in the evenings.
My record collection got a boost a few weeks ago when my Uncle Darrel was in town! He gifted me a 1951 edition of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer that he picked up at a thrift shop. The album is a single, so each listen requires picking up the tone-arm and shifting it back to the outer ring.
This small act is a chance to reflect on the ways the Internet has profoundly simplified and expanded access to music. It is nice to live in a time when we have access to record players and CDs as well as YouTube and Spotify.
The tonal celebration continued last Sunday over in Austin at St. Mark's Lutheran Home, where I was helping out with worship for the afternoon. The residents joyfully sang some of their favorites: "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Go Tell It on the Mountain," and "Joy to the World." It was moving to witness the depth to which these hymns were rooted in the residents. Even though memory had become hazy for some, the familiar hymns continued to find voice.
Another musical highlight was last weekend's Christmas at Assisi concert at Assisi Heights. Both the Choral Arts Ensemble and the Honors Choir sang pieces from an array of genres. The immense beauty of the Lourdes Chapel was a perfect backdrop for the concert. Each line of music was met with care and intention by the musicians.
The evening concluded with artistic director Rick Kvam's arrangement of Franz Gruber's Stille Nacht. "This is one of my favorites," Justin whispered in my ear as the lights came down. By the time the choirs began singing, the chapel was completely darkened save the flickering lights of the candles up front. I nuzzled my head onto Justin's shoulder and closed my eyes. The voices of all the choir members were like angels carrying me to a sacred space. A space where all of life is an interconnected web of gratitude. Music is powerful and glorious.
My evening at Assisi wrapped up in the best way I can imagine. Justin and I got engaged! He proposed after the concert in the courtyard outside my office at Assisi. Now whenever I look out my office window, I am reminded of the kind and loving words he spoke as we embarked on this new chapter in our relationship.
The score of life has a variety of movements. This one is utterly sweet, and I'm savoring every note.