A Thrill of Hope

This past Sunday as we were getting ready for church, Joel started singing O Holy Night. Now, I love all Christmas carols – I start listening to them shortly after the end of October (go ahead, judge me – it won’t change my heart for starting to frame the awe, wonder, and hope of Christmas early). Every year, a different carol gets stuck in my head and resides there. If you ever were around during my substitute teaching at Bella Vista in Tracy, CA, you probably heard me singing Silver Bells. Before then it was O Christmas Tree (sung in English and “made up” German, of course) and year round, I can be found randomly belting out Ave Maria.
This year, I’m stuck on O Holy Night. I love that it tells the story of Christmas and I also love the challenge of singing the ever increasing high notes. As Joel started singing it that morning, I hooked right in and in my best opera voice (secret life) started high. I knew the key changes were coming but it was a go big or go home moment. And so I started:

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices (big breath)
O night divine
O night, when Christ was born (even bigger breath)
O night divine (the high note!)
O night
O night divine

img_9250You’ve got to know, as I was singing, Joel started taunting, “you’re not going to hit it.” Which made me even more determined to get there. He has known me long enough to know that no matter how high I start, I’m hitting the note or will pass out trying. Well, I hit that high note – nailed it in fact. It was so gloriously overwhelming that Kooper literally shook it off and Joel fell over laughing.

Fast forward to church when Joel used this story as his sermon opener. As I listened to him retell the story and then tie in the truth of the lyrics with all that the Christmas season encompasses, I instantly knew exactly why I’m marinating on “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…” Over and over we sang it that morning. Over and over, I’ve sung it this week.

It is so easy to let your heart grow weary in the busyness of the Christmas season. It’s even easier to let your heart grow in the busyness of every day life. But that thrill of hope… mercy, that will bring joy and peace to the hardest of days. The decision to have my weary soul rejoice, to look for that new and glorious morn and not get stuck in my funk – it’s a decision that I have to actively make. And oh how glorious it is when I make that decision to allow that thrill of hope in and rejoice.

Part of me being stuck on a song means I listen to all sorts of versions of it. This morning I listened to Mariah Carey and then Mercy Me and then good ‘ole Harry Connick Jr. sing it. As I listened (& sang along) to his jazzy version, I loved that he decides to have the song crescendo not on the first verse, but on this one:

Christ is the Lord
O praise His name forever
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim
His power
and glory (the big note!)
Evermore proclaim

Oh how I love that! I love that regardless of my circumstances, that if life is good, bad, or ugly at the moment, God’s power and glory should always be proclaimed. That’ll preach!

What Christmas carol is your favorite this year?