Friday, December 4, 2009

The only Christmas song to make me cry....

I am an emotional mess sometimes- there are times when I can cry at the drop of a hat- or at the first whiff of an emotionally manipulative or otherwise sentimental TV commercial. Sad music? Surreptitiously wiping my eyes. Babies sleeping? Sniff. Puppies looking sad?  Huddled in the corner bawling.

OK, not so much. But the Silent Night commercial for Pampers always did it to me. Still can't watch it.

Ironically enough, though, when it comes to deliberate displays of earnest sentiment, Christmas music on the whole really doesn't float my boat. Don't know why- maybe it was the stack of 33 records that my dad used to play each day (Firestone collections, Mitch Miller, Vienna Boys Choir, etc) that has desensitized me. I must be in the minority, but I can't stand "Silent Night". I also don't like "Away in a Manger", "Little Drummer Boy" and "Deck the Halls". They need to kick me out of the Christmas Club and call me Scrooge, but they just aren't my thing. Know what else I can't stand? Bloated and overly emotional celebrity Christmas albums. I truly believe that the Devil uses them to make disco balls in Hell (John Denver and the Muppets are just about the only exception). OK, so I am sentimental AND a cynic. There are worse things!

So imagine my surprise when I caught an unfamiliar but haunting song while flipping through the dial one Christmas. It happened to be playing on my very favorite public radio station (WYEP Pittsburgh), or I doubt that I would ever have heard it. I didn't catch the song title, and because they didn't post the playlists at the time, I actually called the station to find out what it was. Then, I ran out and bought the CD on the spot. I traded it the next week (I didn't care for most of the other songs), but I kept a copy of this one because it was the only Christmas song that ever made me want to cry while driving on the parkway. Seriously.

Here are the lyrics, and you can actually hear an alternative version on this link (from I actually prefer the original, from her live album "Child: Music for the Christmas Season".

Jane Siberry- "Are You Burning Little Candle" (original version)

 Are you burning, little Candle?
High upon the Christmas tree
Symbol of a new beginning
Faith and hope and sweet release

remind us

Of the children's faces
full of wonder and surprise
Of the laughter in their voices,
the sweetness in their eyes
When they wake up in the morning
with the feeling in their heart
That there's joy in the air
and they know that they're a part

Shine your light on me, little Candle

Are you shining, little Star?
Shining in the skies above
Lift us up into the heavens
Symbol of the light of love

Are you spinning, little Dreidel?
Spinning tales of long ago
Spinning past the little cradle
Tell us what we used to know

remind us...

Are you watching, little Angel?
High above the Christmas tree
Angels all around the world
Hear us as we pray for peace

remind us...

Are you listening, little pine tree?
Silent midst the glistening snow
Symbol of the forest stillness
Deepest joy that man can know

Are you singing, little Children?
Singing loud and strong and clear
Singing all around the world
Sing it loud so we can hear

Shine your light on me

Little Candle, Little Star,

Little Angel, Little Children

Shine your light on me
To me, if ever there were a pure expression of what this Season means to me, it is this song. To me, it is about light, and love, and being a part of the world in a meaningful and hopeful way. It is the innocence of the child (and the Child)- being able to listen to the stillness of silence (whether it be of Nature, or the Silence within), and the blessings of life. I am moved every time I hear it.

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