My favorite Christmas song is ‘O Holy Night’. I have about 12 different versions of it on my ipod, and I’m always looking for more. I love this song no less now than I did when I believed fervently in its every word. I love it in spite of its message, which I don’t agree with, and maybe even because of it. This is kind of like the same inexplicable way in which I love my Christian friends not in spite of, but because of their beliefs.
It’s a tetris game that I finished playing a long time ago, but even though I’ve discarded it, it still has meaning to me because of the time spent laying those pieces.
Before I moved to Alaska, I went once to a Unitarian-Universalist church. The congregation sang a hymn out of the hymnal that was to the tune of ‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus’ but with different words. I happen to love ‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,’ and I was quite glad to be able to sing the music of that song without its original words. But somehow, I didn’t like the UU version as much as the original. I had sung ‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus’ for years and I didn’t like its vowels and consonants uprooted and scrambled.
Given time, I could come to love the new version. I am quite glad that there is such a thing as the UU hymnal, that the wonderful music of Christian hymns is recycled and set to more meaningful words. If there were a UU fellowship in my town, I would go and sing and love those songs.
I don’t know if I could love another ‘O Holy Night’ as much as I love the original, though. This song is very much steeped in memory for me. It has been my favorite ever since I first sang it in high school. “Fall on your knees, and hear the angel voices”—those vowels and consonants are not only etched in my mind, they are tangled up with memories and epiphanies, which are harder to supplant. But I don’t mind it. I still belt out “Christ is the Lord” at the top of my voice when I listen to it in the privacy of my apartment. I love the words for their vowels and consonants, just not their meaning.