s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Christmas carols (annotated by Petra)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Christmas carols (annotated by Petra)

Good Christian men rejoice

Good Christian men rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say
News! News!
Jesus Christ is born today*!
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

*Inaccurate unless sung on April 6th, even if allowing for literary usage of present tense to signify past events.

Bring a torch, Jeannette Isabella!

Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella*,
Bring a torch, to the cradle run!
It is Jesus, good folk of the village;
Christ is born and Mary's calling;
Ah! ah! beautiful is the Mother
Ah! ah! beautiful is her Son!

*Hisorical/linguistic inaccuracy. Jeanette Isabella not a valid Hebrew/Semitic name.

Rise up, Shepherd, and Follow

There’s a star in the East on Christmas morn*,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
It will lead to the place where the Christ was born,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

*Inaccurate if taken to mean that Christ was born on the pagan-turned-Catholic holiday celebrated on December 25th. (Also inaccurate by the Julian calendar.) On the other hand, the fact that it may have taken months or years for the wise men to reach the Christ child implies that the star would, in fact, have been shining on the morning of the day that would eventually be known as Christmas. However, it is unlikely that this interpretation was the intended one, given the generally low standards of factuality in Christmas carols.

It Came upon the Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold*:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men from heavn’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Still thru the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav’nly music floats o’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hov’ring wing,
And ever o’er its babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

*Doctrinally unsound. The idea that angels have harps stems from apostate medieval traditions. Not supported by modern revelation.

Doctrinally unsound. Stems from iconographic tradition symbolizing ability of angels to fly, i.e., not bound by earthly limits. Not supported by modern revelation. See JS-H 1:30-31. (Reference in Isaiah 6:2 may be figurative. All of Isaiah may be figurative. Your Mom may be figurative.)

See note at †.

I saw three ships come sailing in

I saw three ships come sailing in . . .
On Christmas Day* in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three . . .
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there . . .
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three . . .
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem . . .
On Christmas Day in the morning.

*†‡ Where to start . . .


At November 07, 2005 2:57 PM, Blogger JB said...

Awesome. I have nothing more to say about the matter. Except maybe "props to Petra too."

At November 07, 2005 4:14 PM, Blogger Th. said...


Wonderful points all, except, well, and there's no way you could have known this, but, well, here goes:

Jeanette Isabella is the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of my father's mother's mother's mother. She was vacationing in Bethlehem at the time.

At November 10, 2005 4:38 PM, Anonymous Petra said...

Marvelous: I laughed, I cried, I pondered. I love it. I adore it. (Literally. I built a shrine to it in the backyard.) If I could anthropomorphize it and then have like ten thousand of its babies, I would. All possible hyperboles fail to express the depth of my admiration for this post.

Or not. But I really do like it, and, perhaps unfortunately, find it eerily accurate. Now there's a whole other slew of Christmas carols forever ruined for me.


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