Fighting Destructive Chaos…with Christmas Carols?

 
Like many people, I am absolutely appalled by the ugly, hateful and destructive chaos emerging in this country. I have also wondered what I, a retired Oakland High School English teacher and Berkeley pastor, now living in a small town on the Oregon coast, could do to somehow change the dialogue and direction as to where the nation is going.

I hope to do so through … Christmas carols!

A bit of background here: I have in recent years been writing new verses to carols that attempt to relate the hope of Christmas with a reality with escalating chaos, environmental degradation, violence and oppression.

Recently, the Progressive Christianity website published my new words for “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” “Joy to the World,” “Lo, How a Rose is Blooming,” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” See: New Verses for Christmas Carols.

As a poet, I have tried to be consistent with the imagery, mood and language of the traditional carols while confronting the modern reality of hate, violence, prejudice, exploitation and oppression.

The first singing of these have modern messages which will startle the ear—relating to guns, walls, drones, racist hate, lies—but I have so used my poetic license in the hope that my words remind Christian believers that an important part of their faith is to be working for peace, justice, dignity, care of the earth and helping the poor, the oppressed and the stranger.

It is my hope that my sharing these words can find broad use at a time they are available on any smart phone or device with wifi or internet connections.

Now’s the time to fight oppression, chaos and lies with song. I offer them for anyone’s use.

Song was an important factor in the Civil Rights Era, and can be more effective with modern technological and social tools.

Virtually every one knows the tunes. It is my hope that “flash choirs” of carolers, equipped with words on cell phones, should start serenading the White House, and all sorts of places throughout the land, frequently. Perhaps it should start on December 28, Holy Innocents Day, and continue to January 6, the end of the twelve days of the Christmas season.

For those of us who are Christian we know that some of the most important messages of the Bible consist in poetry and song, whether in psalms, wisdom and prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible or in various fragments of the New Testament.

May these songs reverberate with peace and good will—and help conquer the destructive chaos abounding.

And let us remember that the Christmas story focuses on a homeless, pregnant teenager who would soon be a refugee.

This event’s significance is enhanced by a choir of angels singing glory to God and peace and goodwill to humans. May thousands join in the song!

Review & Commentary