Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Joys #1 - Sweet Little Jesus Boy

I'm beginning my Christmas Joys this year with a song. I first heard "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" at a high school Christmas music program 50 years ago.  I had enjoyed the seasonal selections sung by the various choral groups and ensembles and was probably thumbing the program to see what was coming next.  I heard her voice -- softly, sweetly, hauntingly beautiful -- as if she were singing a lullaby.  My attention shifted and I was there with her and the child to whom she was singing, "Sweet Little Jesus Boy."

As I write this, I am struggling to explain the effect this song had on me then, as it does today.  It stopped me in my tracks in the middle of the Christmas season when, even 50 years ago, so much was going on -- holiday concerts, shopping, parties, music, anticipation, stress -- all the good and not-so-good about that time of year.  Margaret Green's beautiful voice stopped me and her words spoke to me, "Sweet Little Jesus Boy; We made you be born in a manger; Sweet Little Holy Child, We didn't know who you was."

Today, hearing those words brings me back to the real meaning of Christmas -- not just to the manger scene, where the baby Jesus was born, but to the cross where he died:  "You done told us how, we is a tryin'!  Master, you done show'd us how, even when you was dyin'".

That's the point that this song helps me remember, to celebrate Christmas and to be thankful for that Sweet Little Jesus Boy, but that even during this season I'm going to fall short: "Just seems like we can't do right; look how we treated you."  But I know that the greatest gift he gave us is forgiveness, for all of our lives.  All we have to do is ask, and accept.

To provide a musical link, I listened to several artists' versons of  "Sweet Little Jesus Boy".   I was led back to Mahalia Jackson's.  I hope you enjoy it.



Carol said...

I love that song, too! Another song I enjoy is, Mary Did You Know. So happy you shared these thoughts with us.


Olive Cooper said...

How wonderful that this beautiful hymn means so much to you. He is the reason we celebrate too.


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