I just got emailed this video -- a Christmas greeting from Hillsdale College. It's a beautiful performance.
This is my favorite Christmas song. I remember the first time I heard it: I was a little girl -- seven or eight years old -- and belonged to a club called Pioneer Girls at my church. Each girl had been assigned to an older lady to be her Secret Pal and we were having a Christmas party where our pals would be revealed to us. (Mrs. Bessie was my Secret Pal. She knew my grandmother and I remember she came to take me out for ice cream sodas a couple of times at an old Howard Johnson's down on Clearwater Beach. Sweet of her.)
Anyway, at this Christmas party a woman sang this song and I was just amazed. It's not a difficult song to sing -- until you hit that high "O night divine!" near the end. That's treacherous. To my young ears she sang it perfectly and that became the standard.
Another memorable performance of the song was also long ago -- twenty years or more. Our church in Florida had a Christmas Eve service at midnight. Churches either don't do midnight services anymore -- or maybe they just don't do them in Alabama. I would attend a midnight service every time if one was offered. The service is so beautiful and sacred and when you finish in candlelight -- it's Christmas. I love it.
Anyway, Lori Bean sang this song at that service in the old First Presbyterian Church building. I never heard Lori sing anything that I didn't think was breathtaking, and she sure didn't disappoint that night. It was a beautiful song and a glorious and mystical, mysterious night.
For nine or ten different reasons we have never once attended the Christmas Eve service at our church here in Alabama. Weird. It's at 5:30, which is an awful time if you want to have a dinner with family, and that's the reason we missed it last year. The year before we were in Florida. And so on. Tonight we might go, but I've been sick and I have a cough and if it's acting up we won't go. But Mel will be singing this song tonight and I sure would love to hear it.
Merry Christmas everybody.