Poetry and Music for Christmas

Ring out, O bells, in joyful chime! Again we hail the Christmas time; In melting, mellow atmosphere, The crown and glory of the year.

When bitterness, distrust, and awe Dissolve, like ice in winter's thaw, Beneath the genial touches of Amenity, good will, and love.

When flowers of affection grow, Like edelweiss mid alpine snow, In lives severe and beautiless, Unused to warmth or tenderness.

Let goodness, grace, and gratitude Revive in music's interlude, And pæan notes, till time shall cease, Proclaim the blessed reign of peace.

Ring, Christmas bells! for at the sound Sweet memories of Him abound Who laid aside a diadem To be the babe of Bethlehem.

“Christmas Bells” by Hattie Howard. Very little is known about this prolific writer who lived in the late 1800s. Author of at least six volumes containing over 80 poems and stories, her work has been described as “entirely natural, spontaneous, direct, rhythmical, and free from ambitious pretense” that exhibits “a sunny, hopeful spirit.”1

“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” written by Phillips Brooks and performed by Nat King Cole. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919, Nathaniel Adams Cole was an American singer and jazz pianist. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was the church organist. She taught him how to play and he performed for the first time at age four. At age 12, he began formal lessons and learned jazz, gospel, and western classical music. He was a driving force in popular music for three decades and was one of the first African Americans to host a national variety show, The Nat King Cole Show. He died in 1965 from lung cancer and his music has remained popular long after his death.2

Notes: 1. More about Hattie Howard can be found here. 2. More of Nat King Cole’s biography can be found here.

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor at SpectrumMagazine.org. Photo Credit: Benjamin Earwicker / FreeImages.com

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nat king cole is definitely one of my favorite crooners…aside from his rich voice, his unique, insightful style really hits the spot with the songs he sings…o little town of bethlehem was written for him, and the violinist in this arrangement also has the right stuff…D-major is one of the keys in which a well-played violin resonates well, and this violinist knows just what fingerings to use…

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