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How to fight Christmas melancholy

There was always the shadow of the cross over the manger

King's College singers. Is it that Christmas never delivers?
King's College singers. Is it that Christmas never delivers?

Christmas always has a nip of melancholy in the eggnog for me these days. It could be because my children are growing older. It could be because I myself am growing older. For many of us, an air of disillusionment envelops the mistletoe during this season.

Christmas, specifically December 25, has been a day of hope for thousands of years. Celebrations on this day date back to ancient Egypt when the rebirth of the sun was acknowledged.

There was hope, the sun wasn’t going to continue its journey toward the southern horizon. It was reborn and began ascending once again toward halcyon summer.

Yet, on a day of hope, I still can’t shake those minutes of melancholy that always appear. Could it be because Christmas never really delivers? Even the baby Jesus was born to celestial celebrations but with a shadow of the cross looming over the manager.

What is my Christmas wish this year? Well, there’s Covid-19 and there's a vaccine or two in the news. Even if Christmas delivers, the residue of 2020 will be tasted upon the candy canes.

There is no better way to address melancholy than with melancholy. It is its own cure.

With that in mind, I give you three pieces of Christmas melancholy to cure what ails.

In the Bleak Winter, with music by Gustav Holst, is a poem written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti. The opening verse should make its melancholic tone obvious:

Video:

In the Bleak Midwinter

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

The second piece is much like the first. It is a setting of the ancient Latin text O Magnum Mysterium by American composer Morten Lauridsen. Written in 1994, this setting is a modern classic.

Video:

O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009

Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009

It helps to have a translation of the Latin text:

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the newborn Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Alleluia!

The third piece is yet another setting of O Magnum Mysterium. This one is from the late Renaissance and Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. I find Victoria’s music to oft be the cure for melancholic episodes throughout the year but this one is Christmas specific.

Video:

Tomas Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium

By the Cambridge Singers

By the Cambridge Singers

If your Christmas colors are not red and green but rather blue and bluer, take a moment to wallow in it with these three short pieces of Christmas melancholy.

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King's College singers. Is it that Christmas never delivers?
King's College singers. Is it that Christmas never delivers?

Christmas always has a nip of melancholy in the eggnog for me these days. It could be because my children are growing older. It could be because I myself am growing older. For many of us, an air of disillusionment envelops the mistletoe during this season.

Christmas, specifically December 25, has been a day of hope for thousands of years. Celebrations on this day date back to ancient Egypt when the rebirth of the sun was acknowledged.

There was hope, the sun wasn’t going to continue its journey toward the southern horizon. It was reborn and began ascending once again toward halcyon summer.

Yet, on a day of hope, I still can’t shake those minutes of melancholy that always appear. Could it be because Christmas never really delivers? Even the baby Jesus was born to celestial celebrations but with a shadow of the cross looming over the manager.

What is my Christmas wish this year? Well, there’s Covid-19 and there's a vaccine or two in the news. Even if Christmas delivers, the residue of 2020 will be tasted upon the candy canes.

There is no better way to address melancholy than with melancholy. It is its own cure.

With that in mind, I give you three pieces of Christmas melancholy to cure what ails.

In the Bleak Winter, with music by Gustav Holst, is a poem written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti. The opening verse should make its melancholic tone obvious:

Video:

In the Bleak Midwinter

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

The second piece is much like the first. It is a setting of the ancient Latin text O Magnum Mysterium by American composer Morten Lauridsen. Written in 1994, this setting is a modern classic.

Video:

O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009

Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009

It helps to have a translation of the Latin text:

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the newborn Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Alleluia!

The third piece is yet another setting of O Magnum Mysterium. This one is from the late Renaissance and Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. I find Victoria’s music to oft be the cure for melancholic episodes throughout the year but this one is Christmas specific.

Video:

Tomas Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium

By the Cambridge Singers

By the Cambridge Singers

If your Christmas colors are not red and green but rather blue and bluer, take a moment to wallow in it with these three short pieces of Christmas melancholy.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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