Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Star Carol Part 3

(A final take on the Star Carol blessing, from Frances.  She had never written about her experience of the matter, and I thought it would be special to get her thoughts.)

      As a child, the only method we had of providing music for our holidays was with vinyl albums. The compact disc player was not to become a popular mode for playing music until after I had married in 1978. 
     Two albums dominated our Christmas season rituals, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Star Carol.  I knew then, as I do now, the songs by heart and eventually learned the harmony to most of the songs as well.  I can remember hearing my brother’s beautiful baritone voice singing along with the albums during the holidays.  For both of us, who love the holidays and love music, these albums were a very special part of our holiday memories.
     As I started my own family, and our own holiday traditions, I could easily find Crosby’s familiar tunes but I was unable to locate the deep tones of Tennessee Ernie Ford.  I described the album to my husband as well as my dismay at not being able to hear it again.    We would look for the album from time to time at record stores and flea markets, but I had no idea he had made it a serious quest that would span the next two decades.
     How surprised I was twenty-six years later, to sit in my own living room and hear the preciously imperfect scratches from a vinyl record as Tennessee Ernie Ford crooned out one of my favorite Christmas songs ever,
O hearken ye who would believe,
the gracious tidings now receive:
Gloria! Gloria
in excelsis Deo!

The mighty Lord of heav'n and earth
today is come to human birth!
Gloria! Gloria
In excelsis Deo!”

    Memories from Christmases past flooded over me.  I couldn’t imagine how my husband had managed to find the album and then, how did he ever manage to play it since we didn’t own a record player?

    When I discovered the album had been located at Gordon Oaks and given to me, through him, as a gift from the nurses and residents there, it was an even greater joy.  My own parents were then seven years gone and the residents of this nursing home had in many ways come to help fill the void the loss of parents had created. 

    It was a Christmas that needed a special treat, too. Our son was deployed to Iraq as a Reconnaissance Marine and we were not even sure of his location other than in a very general sense.   It was the first, and only so far, Christmas when all of us were not at home for the holidays.  Made harder still by the knowledge our son was engaged in a war, the kind gift offered a present better than any wrapped in paper and ribbon. 

    Knowing it was the sweet answer to prayer after prayer by my husband made it infinitely more precious to me than anything that could have been purchased in a store.  For me the album represented  both memories of the past and hope for the future, when all my family would be around the tree, sharing the holiday, with Tennessee Ernie Ford in the background encouraging us,

O hearken ye who long for love
and turn your hearts to God above.
Gloria! Gloria
in excelsis Deo!

The angel's song the wonder tells:
now love incarnate with us dwells!
Gloria! Gloria
in excelsis Deo!”

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