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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Music for waiting

This week, the staff of The Lutheran shares what they’re listening to this Advent and as they prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas. Three editors share their recommendations for three very different types of music for the season.

Sonia Solomonson, The Lutheran’s managing editor, recommends:

Chanticleer’s Sing We Christmas album contains a mixture of pieces such as “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomas Luis de Victoria, “O Virgo Virginum” by Josquin Desprez, “A Virgin Unspotted” by William Billings and some of our more familiar Christmas carols such as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” and “Silent Night.” (Available at www.amazon.com.)

On a very different note, I enjoy the sound of a harp. Two Christmas seasonal favorites are: Christmas with the Harp and Peace by Karen Svanoe Westgate (www.harpgate.com). This soothing harp music allows me to reflect as I listen.

Kathleen Kastilahn, The Lutheran’s section editor, recommends:

It’s quaint, you might think, hearing that the musical She Loves Me follows the lives of a half-dozen employees of a parfumerie in a small Hungarian city in the 1930s. Nothing too earth-shattering happens between the fine summer day when they all—except for the owner—wish they could go off on a picnic and the cold December one when customers rush in to do their Christmas shopping. Nothing—except that these characters learn the difference between false love and true, and come to find the true. Just how they do this makes you shed a tear or two as you cheer them on, certain that on the other side of their disappointment they will find joy. They do—and so do listeners in songs that are marvelously witty and tender too. The ensemble numbers and duets are fabulous in their intertwining lines and melodies.

She Loves Me opened on Broadway in 1963 but lasted only 320 performances. Still, those who saw this little play loved it. Dubbed a “cult” favorite, it played on stages of community theater and then was revived in 1993. That’s the CD I have: Varese Sarabande Spotlight Series. I fell in love with She Loves Me the first time I saw it, some 30 years ago, and played the album every Christmas while I wrote cards and wrapped gifts. Then I saw it again just a few years ago and switched to the CD of the Broadway revival. The music truly carries the story—you’ll enjoy listening even if you haven’t seen a production, but you’ll want to see it. I do, again.

(She Loves Me is available at www.amazon.com.)

Amber Leberman, The Lutheran’s Web manager and associate art director, recommends:

It’s an effort for me to save Over The Rhine’s The Darkest Night of the Year for Advent, but it makes this December treat of an album all the more savory. As someone who finds herself more often in faith’s shades-of-gray than its certainties, Over The Rhine’s sometimes sparse, sometimes saturated, always allusive lyrics both comfort and challenge me.

The Darkest Night of the Year features music for contemplating the “mysterium tremendum” as well as finding comfort in the familiar. The cover art, which features a very reluctant hearer receiving the good news from a determined angel, sets the emotional tone for the album. Original songs such as “Thank You My Angel” express gratitude for a “taste of dirt from the floor of heaven,” while “Amelia’s Last” contemplates with amazement that “someone breathed this breath in us.” Fresh takes on “Silent Night” and “Oh Come, O Come, Emmanuel” impart to the old favorites a new tension twinged with the anticipation, even anxiety, of expecting our savior’s arrival.

(Listen online and order The Darkest Night of the Year at www.overtherhine.com.)


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