Augustine said that when you sing, you pray twice. and the first time we borrowed Tomie dePaola’s Book of Christmas Carols, i became convinced of this truth! Nicolas (who is now a great-big-cowboy boot-wearing 4 and a half) was only 18 months old. he didn’t talk very much at all, but he could bring the book over and search through the pictures until he found the song that he wanted to hear. then he would hand me the book and listen as i sang. he didn’t memorize anything or even join in, but i am certain that he was praying. those songs had such an effect on him. and it was wonderful to be a part of his experience that year.
(parenthetically, watching Nicolas respond to the images first and then the songs was the reason i wanted to make an illustrated hymnal. we call it Family Hymns. it contains a selection of hymns of reverence and hymns of gratitude. and you can print a copy for your family! the illustrations are by Gertrud Mueller Nelson! perfect!)
Advent and Christmas are a great chance to fill the house with music. there are carols you can sing yourself or maybe a child is in lessons and you will get to hear that some snatch of Joy to the World all season! music can do so much to change the atmosphere of the house.
in the three days leading up to Christmas, our local classical music station--that streams online for free!--hosts a Festival of Carols. one of the highlights for me is the live (live! in real time!) BBC broadcast of Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols from King College Cambridge. the first time i heard this service was when we lived in the jungle. i listened on the shortwave radio to the announcer describe dark falling in Cambridge on the night before Christmas as i sat looking out over the Suriname River. here on the West Coast it broadcasts at 7 am. do listen; it is glorious.