Merry Christmas! I am one of those people who loves Christmas Music and I secretly start listening to it around mid-October. Creating a Christmas Album has been something I've wanted to do for a long time and so this year I talked my brother and dad into finally making it happen.
The album has been a home-grown effort (quite literally), but we all like how it turned out and hope that you do, too. Lots of thanks to Sam (my bro) for recording, writing, mixing, and laughing with me through the process. Also big thanks to Guy for being our Dad and lending his ears and expertise and mad skillz to the album.
Where to listen:
Our goal was to create a pure, and "still" listening experience, stripped down, and simple. Two and a half songs are originals, and two and a half songs are covers of carols.
With the Carols, we wanted to capture the real, rustic atmosphere of the stable and manger to transport the listener there to just be, to compose a musical space for listeners to see the Christ Child through eyes of those who may have been there. Our hope is that in these songs, listeners will feel some of the wonder, awe, gratitude, and surrealism that come when we think of Christ and the other witnesses we have of life, joy, and the reasons that we are here.
Some Children See Him -- traditional, Alfred Burt. (Guitar - Sam, vocals- Emily)
This is a beautiful carol by Alfred Burt with a similarly beautiful message. We love that Christ is a Christ for all of us. But I also love the rhetorical question that is subtly posed by the title-- some children see him... but do you? And if you do, what is it that you see? Can you see the Christ that others see, and more importantly, can you see Christ in them?
The Shepherd's Song -- lyrics and music by Guy (Guitar - Guy, vocals - Emily)
An original by Guy Golightly. The character in this song is a shepherd, who sees the star sings his contemplations of the Christ Child.
The Blessed Child (Leanabh an Aigh) -- lyrics by Emily, traditional tune (Guitar- Sam, Vocals - Emily)
This melody of this song features a traditional Scottish tune called Bunessan that you recognize as the traditional melody for "Child in the Manger" (Cat Stevens also borrowed it in his song "The Morning has Broken"). About a year ago, I stumbled on an amazing version of this song by the Quadriga Consort and I was dumbfounded. It's probably one of the beautiful things I have ever heard. The way that the melody-- sung purely, simply, and in traditional folk form-- floats atop a group of straining, dissonant, brooding, unusual and unexpected chords played on strings is powerful and poignant. It's like the strips of wood in Christ's manger are themselves humming and cradling the the Christ Child while Mary sings.
The original words were in Scottish/ Gaelic, and I thought the translations were still pretty formal and stiff, so I took the gist of the translation but wrote new lyrics in English.
In the Bleak Midwinter / All Through the Night -- traditional carols, arranged by Emily (Guitar- Emily and Sam, Vocals- Emily)
In the Bleak Midwinter is a classic poem by Christina Rosetti and has become a familiar carol, though not the most popular of Christmas Carols.
I noticed that this song and another traditional lullaby/carol, All Through the Night, shared almost the same chords and meter, and so in this song, we attempted a medley/round of these songs, juxtaposing the first-person narrator of Mary's Lullaby and the "Angels" (in All Through the Night) with the of the third-person narrator voiced by the poem (in the Bleak Midwinter).
Time Rings Us All
Max Golightly, my grandpa, used to work at BYU as a drama and speech professor. He was also Utah's Poet of the Year in 1970. Max died in 1997, when I was seven and Sam was 5, so we never really had a chance to develop a real relationship with him. A few years ago, Sam was in a bookstore and as he was on his way out, a book spine on the shelf caught his eye. The book's title was "A Morning of Taurus," and happened to be a collection of our Grandfather's poems. So he bought it, took it home, and read the poems.
One poem in particular stood out to him-- just a simple little four line poem called "Time Rings us All."
Time rings us all, as surely as the tree
With lines that meet to mark the growing soul
Joy and sorrow concave us by degree
Time rings us all, as surely as the tree
Sam thought that was pretty cool, and ended up writing another four lines for the poem. In a day, he had written a song and melody to accompany it.
Love plants us all as saplings in the spring
With leaves and flowers that change as time grows old
Green fades to gray, yet leaving sacred seeds
Love plants them all as saplings in the spring.
Of course, this was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard, and was so happy when Sam said it didn't feel quite finished, so I wrote another verse for the song and leapfrogged off to follow Sam's verse.
Death roots us all, in paths that wind unseen
Beneath the snow, they yet grow evergreen
Earth calls us home with loving gravity
Death roots us all, the seeds and evergreens
Enjoy and thanks for listening!