According to The Gospel of Matthew, the Nativity was backlit by a moving miracle. The star in the East drew the Magi, but not Herod, who was looking to murder prophecied Messiahs. And stars are a great symbol (pentagrams include all five elements, cf. Bruce Willis). And they’re pretty when you don’t have so much urban light pollution. (It’s a miracle to see any stars anymore.)
[Sidebar: “Star of Bethlehem” is such a symbol, Neil Young sings about needing help to get through a bad breakup in 1974. So, not so much Jesus.]
[Besidebar: German experimental band Can pinballed the weird folkrock “Little Star of Bethlehem,” but heavens if i can tell you what it’s about. Drugtrip for Froggie and Toadie?]
The “Star of Bethlehem” will show the way, according to the popified country from Danielle Rose. Yeah, it’s gonna be pretty Christian this month.
The Children’s Chorus sings “Star of Bethlehem” in the ‘Home Alone’ movie. Yeah, that’s John Williams’s churchy music. Lots of good stuff from this star: filling with hope, viewing with love, bettering our hearts, making us wiser. Star power activate.
Sometimes the steeple sounds are background to the message. Granted it’s Christmas and there’s Christ in there. But Calling All Souls–let’s just give Peace a chance without the Name-dropping.
Some of this stuff is so ancient, i can’t really make out the gloriosa bits. “Sweet Christmas Bells/Christmas Bells” by Stainer/Bridge is uplifting us about the sounds on high. Not the Son on high. (I guess.) Also indecipherable comes upon us “Ring Out Your Bells” from The Joyful Company of Singers. Sit up straight and quit falling asleep!
As you may have heard (Overheard Novelty Alert), church bells keep the Red Baron from ruining “Snoopy’s Christmas” according to the 1966 rock of the Royal Guardsmen.
Simplify Christmas (feat. Mark Hand) has a very short exhortation (is that hip hop Salvation Army music?) with “Fortune Bell,” a round of chant-song that calls to us.
Surely those bells at Christmastime are church bells! Yet, as we have seen, some bells are just brazen gongs. Even the bells that call us to faith are not always X-ian.
Druids like a good clang-a-lang. Jethro Tull’s flute-rock hails us to “Ring Out Solstice Bells.” Ecstasy through clamor. Besides, there aren’t enough carols you can clap along with.
Cowgirl Aspen Black’s “Sleigh Bells in the Sky” relies on mythos and symbolism (and a voice like a dull woodsaw) to create a soaring outdoor ballad about loss. Gentle country.
Ohio City Players mean God = Christmas, obvi. But their “The Ringing of the Bells” is so carefully crafted as secular that i want to hear it in this pigeon-hole. Lively, yes. But a bit un-knowing in its gospeliousness.
Faithfully, spiritually, Melissa Etheridge invokes us to “Ring the Bells” of Peace. It’s inclusive of all who want to no longer want. Powerful folk.
“Ridin’ Trails with Jesus” compares the wandering cowpoke to the life of man. David Shook compels some gospel from some half-baked country.
Mary Kaye’s “It All Began in a Barn” compares some old farm outbuilding to the beginning of forgiveness. Farmer’s Xmas song?
Cathy Jones ponders the possibility with “If There had been Cowboys” the first Christmas night in a song that reaches farther than its manure roots can support. Now, what if there had been face-recognition software in Herod’s kingdom?
Most fun with the contrast, Three Day Threshold and Summer Villains lean into the genre with “The Ballad of Baby Jesus.” I like it when they drawl ‘King of the Jews’ with a Texan accent like he’s some gunslinger to contend with.