Christmastime is here…
Okay, so not really, but who is with me in looking forward to the Christmas season? One of my favorite things about the holiday is the music. I have several books which talk about the stories behind the hymns, but I had yet to come across one which focused on the Christmas Carols…until now!
What first struck me was the simplicity of the layout. I love that each of the 21 songs are categorized into themes. Topics range from specific dates, to Scripture, to aspects of the season. I do think I would have preferred the topics be more consistent, like all Scripture references or all aspects of the season. There are one or more songs included, both religious and secular. I was a little surprised to find the secular songs included, but found their stories just as interesting.
I was pleasantly surprised by the details in this book. Each of the songs is studied in depth to a degree I did not expect. The author delves into the backgrounds and lives of the lyricists and composers in much more detail than I thought. While it is interesting, in some ways it distracts from what I am most interested in, which is a concise understanding of the song’s story. There are also moments of explanation about the musical aspects, which as a musician I did find interesting, but I think it could be a little too much information for those who may not be musically inclined.
Perhaps it is because of my experience with other stories-behind-the-songs books, but this one did not keep my attention the way I had hoped. I would most likely use this as a reference book rather than just sit and read it through for pleasure. Still, the writing is high quality and well done and I think it would be very helpful tool for musicians and church leadership alike during the Christmas season.