Variety and Unity in Christmas Carols

Variety and Unity in Christmas Carols
Variety and Unity in Christmas Carols

Through Their Christmas Carols, Each People Glorify the Child Jesus in Their Own Way

Christmas carols vary according to the national character, but all share the same notes appropriate to that Holy Night. The carols may be American, Brazilian, Italian, German, French, or Spanish Christmas carols. The music may vary greatly, but each manages to manifest the same sentiments aroused by the Child Jesus, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and the Nativity scene. What are these sentiments?

The first one is innocence. We note that the various peoples were able to compose genuine hymns of enthusiasm for the innocence of the Child Jesus. This enthusiasm echoes the innocence of each people expressed while glorifying Him.

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When we sing these carols, it reflects our innocence. Indeed, if we have no innocence, we would not be interested in Him. We would join those who have no interest in Him or appear to be interested out of habit or formality. When we have innocence, we are interested and sing of His innocence.

Another sentiment is that of tenderness that elicits compassion because the Child Jesus is so fragile and small yet He is also the Man-God—so great yet contained in that Little Child. Hence comes the desire to protect the Child Jesus against any aggression. Thus, some Christmas songs suggest a note of defending the Divine Infant.

We might compare the different national Christmas carols with the sun. Its light is the same color. However, when passing through a stained-glass window, its rays take on different but harmonious colors. The sunlight then projects itself like precious stones.

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Likewise, the Infant Jesus is only one being, but we notice a certain beauty when the English soul sings of Him; another beauty when sung by the German soul, and still other beauties emerge with Latin, Brazilian, Hispanic-American souls. I have also heard very beautiful Slavic and Russian carols, which display different qualities. All these songs form, as it were, a stained-glass window for the Child Jesus.

The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on December 30, 1988. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision.—Ed.