Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas peace to all. I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the savior did come for to die, for poor ord'n'ry people, like you and like I. I wonder as I wander out under the sky. When Mary birthed Jesus, 'twas in a cow's stall, with wise men and farmers and shepherds and all; and high from God's heaven a star's light did fall: the promise of ages it did then recall. If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing, a star in the sky or a bird on the wing, Or all of God's angels in heav'n for to sing, he surely could have it, 'cause he was the king. I notice many recorded versions of this, most of which I've never heard. Of the ones I have, I favor Anne Hills' rendition on the collaboration "On This Day Earth Shall Ring," a 1985 release on Hogeye Records. I find I really dislike the more bluesy or jazz versions I've heard. Voice and guitar with a mandolin sounds just about right. People who know me know my tastes in music run unabashedly American: jazz, spirituals (white and black), bluegrass, rock, and the various fusions of the above. And even in classical music, I prefer Hovhaness, Griffes, Gershwin, Ellington, Barber, Ives, Beach, Copland, Rouse, Adams, Glass, MacDowell, Hanson, Cage, and the others above pretty much everything from Europe. So I'm going to narrow myself to Christmas songs from my own country. Which isn't to say the French or the Brits don't kick liturgical butt from time to time, but you have to start somewhere. And home is a good place to do it. Leading off a Twelve Songs of Christmas, "I Wonder as I Wander" is pretty much unparalleled whether Anne Hills sings it or my wife. Either way, pass the guitar and a glass of Christmas cheer. Blessings to you and yours this first day of Christmas.

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