“Christ The Savior Is Born!”

My favorite film of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the 1998 TV version with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.  Besides being–in my view–the most faithful to the original, there are several little touches about it that I really like. 

Perhaps foremost among these is a brief but stirring inclusion of the song, “Silent Night,” during a series of glimpses showing the Ghost of Christmas Present at work.  After showing Scrooge the condition of the Cratchits, but before visiting his nephew, Fred, the ghost takes Scrooge on a tour of some of his other rounds of blessings, among the poor in general.  Tiny Tim begins the song, and the last of these short scenes is of a group of miners making their way along in the dark, whilst one of them belts out the end of the second verse of the song: “Christ the Savior is born!”

It’s amazing.  I’ve never heard it sung that way before or since, but it seems to me now the only natural way to do so.  After all (in my church’s hymn book, at least), that line ends with an exclamation mark.  We usually sing this song very quietly, but that line really does demand to be declared boldly, announced on the rooftops and by trumpets.  And the way it’s sung in this movie…imagine Pavarotti letting fly with some signature opera in a massive coliseum and you might get the picture. 

Las Vegas used to have an annual live nativity pageant, put on by the Las Vegas stake of the LDS Church, and what I remember of it now is the part near the end where the shepherds have visited the baby in the manger, and then the narrator reads Luke 2:17, “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”  Immediately after this, all the people playing shepherds run out to the bleachers where the audience sit and make a series of impassioned, improvised announcements, to the effect of, “Great news!  The Messiah has been born!” or “Jesus Christ was just born!  The Savior is here!”  The singing of “Silent Night” in that movie reminds me of the joyous enthusiasm of those young actors. 

Shouldn’t that be our attitude?  This holiday commemorates a major milestone in the eternal victory of good over evil, of mercy and salvation over death and sin.  Peaceful reverence certainly has its place, but I do like also seeing some boisterous bravado in our celebration of the Lord’s mortal birth. 

“Silent Night” is sung near the end of the clip below:

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An Open Appeal To the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Dear Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Will you please make a recording for missionary distribution?  There are only so many Church videos and materials to give to friends before they’ve seen everything, and probably seen it multiple times from all their Mormon friends.  I’d love to give people some of your great albums of hymns, but it’s just not affordable.

Yes, it would cost money, but wouldn’t it be a great missionary opportunity?  It would bless lives and build friendships.  Everyone who receives it would love it. 

Christmas music would be perfect.  It wouldn’t even have to be a full album–a few songs would be enough to make a valuable gift.  Thanksgiving, Easter, or Independence Day would also make great opportunities.  Or all of the above!  Friends, relatives, and home teachers could share these gifts at appropriate times when interest is highest.  A small CD package could also include a more direct message about the Church, or maybe just a quote about that holiday.  Or just a picture and the Church web site’s address. 

They could be included in copies of that month’s Ensign.  Or, if that’s too costly, make them available as cheaply as possible from the distribution center. 

If that’s all still impossible, perhaps you could provide a few free mp3 downloads on the Church web site and we could advertise them to our friends with pass along cards.

I know that such a production would yield great results, in the lives of everyone such a recording would touch.  As a teacher, I read samples of great works to children and thus enlarge that author’s exposure and appreciation.  This project would do the same for the Tabernacle Choir. 

And it would undoubtedly help spread the gospel.  Who can hear your music and not feel the Spirit? 

Sincerely,

Jamie Huston