Handel’s “Messiah” is the epitome of Christmas music. Handel incorporates the purpose of the Messiah’s birth: His death and resurrection, man’s sinful nature, Christ’s forgiveness of sins, the Christian life. His music fits the occasion of the Christmas Holiday because it draws all the components of Christmas together in a great and glorious – albeit a bit lengthy when term papers are calling — oratorio. Not only does the piece match the occasion, but the sound also matches the words.
For example, in the second part the men sing once, authoritatively in unison “The Lord gave the word” and the entire choir dissolves into a great company of preachers, building upon each other, parting ways, and exploring new paths in the music while remaining in harmony.
It becomes increasingly grand and glorious.
I returned from the “Messiah” and finally turned on my Christmas music –– yes, I hold out until Dec. 1 for carols, none of this mixing Thanksgiving and Christmas nonsense –– but “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and “Santa Baby” was the best Spotify could offer, nothing to the caliber of the “Messiah.”
Nothing says Christmas like pop singers singing about getting frisky in cold weather –– somehow informing an unidentified individual about the weather to influence his or her actions just screams “Merry Christmas.” Watch out weather channel, you’re about to get a whole lot of Christmas cheer.
Apparently hitting Santa up with sultry jazz or a naughty, little ‑girl voice for an absurdly fancy gift unmistakably fits the purpose and tradition of Christmas.
Certainly the days of wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas or just your two front teeth are long gone. All we want now, beside the standard world peace, end to hunger and poverty, and a cure for cancer is someone, “here tonight, holding me so tight.” Never mind their faithfulness, affection, attention, compatibility. No: “just you…baby.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Christmas music that you can’t find in a hymnal –– I love Nat King Cole telling me to have a “merry little Christmas,” and I often dream of a “White Christmas”and while “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”
But at least his music is about Christmas, not about broken relationships, emerging temporary relationships, breaking relationships or just relationships in general. If we keep on this track look out; One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” might show up in your Holiday Music play-list as long as they say “Happy Holidays” or “Santa” or “Snow” somewhere in the song.