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Light in Darkness, Let Us Sing

December 23, 2012

Joel Cohen, Musical Director Emeritus of the marvelous early music ensemble, Boston Camarata, writes of their Renaissance Christmas program:

"In fact, the most astonishing juxtapositions of seriousness and wit, of spirituality and jest, run through this Renaissance Christmas reportoire. All the animals of the barnyard seem to make their appearance at some point of other: cocks, cuckoos, owls and wolves participate in our musical celebration......And in the Magnificant of  Galliculus ("Little Rooster"!) the different modes of experiencing Christmas are made to run together: solemn Gregorian chants, learned Flemish-style polyphony, and a riotous collection of Christmas carols, animal noises, sound effects and nonsense syllables manage happily to co-exist: Finnegan's Wake in a Renaissance Chapel.

At Christmas contradictions are overcome; we learn to reconcile the different aspects of our own being. Our humblest and noblest parts move together toward the Truth that lies beyond us, yet which, at moments, does come near."

I've always felt that Christmas is a greater mystery than even theologians give it credit. There is some kind of Dark Night of the Soul beauty about it, a numinous to it, as if in deep December we encounter the thinnest of the thin places. And that's a quality shared among the December holidays. Just as we herald and summon the slow return of longer days, we marvel, too, that in richest darkness, the colored lights twinkle brightest. 

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I'm a writer, yoga teacher, Lutheran pastor, and music nerd living in New York. I find a feast in daily living - most days, anyway - and write about it here. 

Finalist for the 2017 Chautauqua Prize!
The frank and funny story of a church-geek girl who spent twenty years in the ecclesiastical trenches as a Lutheran pastor, preaching weekly words of hope she wasn’t sure she even believed.