A Timeless Classic: Classic Christmas carols offer listeners feelings of hope unparalleled by contemporary carols

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A Timeless Classic: Classic Christmas carols offer listeners feelings of hope unparalleled by contemporary carols

Jessica Konrad

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“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.” “Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; and in His name all oppression shall cease.”

When listening to this classic Christmas carol, “O Holy Night,” it’s easy to see why this carol has been around for so long. Through the lyrics alone, it evokes some of the most quintessential human desires: happiness, harmony and freedom. Combined with an enchanting melody and the voices of a choir, its message of peace and hope is unstoppable. This is a common theme among classic Christmas carols. For example, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” speaks of “peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled,” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” details “peace on the earth, goodwill to men.” The uplifting nature of these lyrics communicates hope to listeners and conveys that though our world is imperfect and deeply flawed, there is still a chance for peace and redemption.

While I love a modern Christmas jam just as much as the next person, the messages, or perhaps lack thereof, of these new renditions simply don’t measure up to those of their predecessors. For example, Wham!’s “Last Christmas” is certainly a catchy tune, but “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special” doesn’t exactly have the same staying power or resonance as “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth” from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Though “Last Christmas” is a fun song to belt out to in the car, it doesn’t bring the same “comfort and joy” that so many classic carols do.

Beyond the lyrics of these classic carols, the melodies and musical lines within these pieces are far more complex and interesting to the ear than those of contemporary carols. For example, “Santa Baby” is a cute ditty, but after a few minutes, listeners are ready for it to be over. Meanwhile, older pieces like Handel’s “Messiah” attract crowds who are willing to sit and listen to the beautiful music for up to three hours.

Further, these classic carols bring back memories from childhood. Throughout our fast-paced, busy lives, classic carols remain constant, serving as a reminder of simpler times and the Christmas joy of our youth. New issues emerge, conflicts arise and our lives change around us, yet no matter the situation at hand, these classic carols are always there to provide hope.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Jessica Konrad at jkonrad@hilite.org.

Read social media editor Hannah Gretz’ perspective on pop holiday music HERE.