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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace

I love listening to NPR's show All Songs Considered.  A few music geeks get on the radio & play new music they've discovered or by artists they enjoy and they talk about them.  This time of year, they always have a Holiday music episode where they play mostly Christmas songs.  The show isn't particularly reverent of Christmas, several of the shows contributors are Jewish, so there are always a few funny Hanukkah songs.  The contributors each make several song selections & they describe what they like about it, & the whole group will discuss it.  Halfway through the show, Stephen Thompson (I think that's his name) introduces a song from Sufjan Stevens 2005 Christmas album.  This didn't surprise me in the least in that Sufjan Stevens is a favorite among music geeks.  What surprised me was the song choice.  I would've guessed one of the few secular songs on the album like Get Behind Me Santa or We're Going to the Countryor even one of the better known traditional songs like Oh Holy Night or Away in the Manger.  Instead, Thompson picks Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, not a Christmas song at all.  This version has Sufjan playing the Banjo, the rest of the instrumentation is acoustic, & is exactly the arrangement of the hymn.  He plays it straight, no additions, no flourishes or wild cacophonous noises that Stevens loves to throw into his songs.  It was exactly the treatment I love to hear applied to old hymns, artfully & simply done. 

I'll tell you what I love about this little experience of listening to this in the car.  The show isn't religious in any way, it's a show for people who love music by people who love music.  I'm not sure if the gentleman who picked Come Thou Fount is Christian or not.  For those who heard this show, it didn't matter.  The message of that song came through all the same.  He played the song because it's a great song, better than any other he could think of. 

Sufjan Stevens is a Christian.  His music is enjoyed by Christians & non-Christians alike.  His music isn't promoted by a Christian music label.  Sufjan Stevens has made a name for himself because he makes great music, not because he is a Christian.  It matters not whether he makes any great statement about being a Christian, the message comes through in the song.  I believe we are called to do the same.  We are called to do what we do to the best of our abilities to show God's love to others.  This performance fits the bill, it cuts through the smoke & the darkness & shines brightly for all to see. 

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Do You Hear What I Hear?-Sufjan Stevens

Silent Night-Huey "Piano" Smith & the Clowns

White Christmas-Charlie Parker

Silent Night All Day Long-John Prine

Greensleeves-John Coltrane

Merry Christmas, friends. 


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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...