Welcome To Our World – The Christmas Song That’s Becoming A Modern Classic

I never paid much attention to the song Welcome To Our World before this year. However, after I began posting about Christmas Carols, a friend told me it was her favorite Christmas song and suggested I give it a listen. So, I played it and truly paid attention to the song that evening. At first, I was intrigued. Soon after, I was slightly emotional.

Chris Rice first published Welcome To Our World in 1995. It is contemporary in style but feels like a traditional hymn. The song has an O Come, O Come Emmanuel feel because it speaks from a first century perspective. However, the part that stirs me is where the song shows Jesus’ preparation for death so soon after at his birth:

“Fragile fingers sent to heal us, Tender brow prepared for thorns,

Tiny heart whose blood will save us, Unto us is born. Unto us is born.

Dang.

Of his song, Chris Rice shared the following thoughts in a CCM interview: “Welcome to Our World deals with the reality that God invaded our planet and became one of us, which is just astounding to me. I wrote about God coming to our world in a naive way, knowing that it’s not ours anyway. It’s God’s. The thoughts that went through my head were about how tiny Jesus was and how He came into the world just like the rest of us. How much did Jesus know at that point? When Jesus was human flesh, was He aware at all that He was really God, or did He just accept all the limitations and start from scratch? I thought of that progression, and about the fact that He took on what He did so we would be able to find God and be found by God.” 

I must say, Welcome To Our World is now one of my favorite Christmas songs. If you’ve never heard the song, why not click on the link below and listen to it now? Let me know what you think. 

Click here to hear Chris Rice sing Welcome to Our World. 

*Image courtesy of Rod Long and Unsplash

**This post and others like it can be found at www.johnjfrady.com

I Wonder As I Wander – The Christmas Folk Song Discovered By Chance

The Christmas folk song, I Wonder As I Wander, was very aptly named. It is attributed to John Jacob Niles who wandered through the towns and country roads of the Appalachian mountains in search of original folk songs. The library of work Niles uncovered is perhaps one of the most important in all of music history. I Wonder As I Wander may be the best testimony of his years of hard work.

One cold December day, John Jacob Niles visited the town of Murphy, North Carolina. As Niles watched and listened, he could hear the snow crunching under the feet of children who peered into shops displaying a few small toys. As he glanced up and down the street, he saw a young blond girl with a dirty face sitting by herself on a bench. Unaware that Niles was listening, the girl was singing a beautiful song with an intriguing melody and lyrics. 

When the little girl finished singing, Niles introduced himself and learned that her name was Annie Morgan. She said she learned the song from her mother who had learned it from her grandmother. The girl’s family were poor revivalists and were camping in the town square, cooking their food in the open and hanging their wash from the monuments. Learning that her family was about to be evicted from their makeshift home, Niles paid Annie 25 cents to sing him the song again, which she did as Niles furiously transcribed words and music on paper. Before the day was over, she had sung the song for Niles eight times. Annie left with two dollars in her pocket which probably meant a lot to her family that day. 

John Jacob Niles recognized the beautiful simplicity of the song, which to him combined the passion of the American spiritual with the irony of the Irish ballad. Niles published and recorded I Wonder As I Wander in the years before World War II. People everywhere were awed by his chance meeting with the little girl and the discovery of the song. Even though the song contributed to his own success, Niles was always careful to point out that his version and performance could never compare with Annie Morgan’s original performance as she sat alone on a bench in the snow of the North Carolina mountains.

Click here to hear Vanessa Williams sing I Wonder as I Wander

*Image courtesy of Kostian Li and Unsplash

**This post and others like it can be found at www.johnjfrady.com

The Christmas Carol with the Nasty Tune

In 1865, William Chatterton Dix, a businessman in Bristol, England, became ill. His sickness caused a near death experience which left him with severe depression. During his recovery, however, Dix became an avid reader of the Bible and experienced a personal revival of sorts. His reading led to his writing of several poems, songs, and hymns, including  the beloved Christmas carol What Child Is This? For the tune of his new song, Dix chose the tune from the well known English folk song Greensleeves. 

Greensleeves was a popular English folk song probably written in the 16th century. The lyrics of the song contain numerous references to a lady in green sleeves who cheated on her beloved. Popular legends claim that King Henry VIII composed the song for his mistress then wife Anne Boleyn, but there doesn’t seem to be much historical evidence for that theory. A more likely possibiliy is that the song was written about a loose young woman, possibly a prostitute, whose dress developed green sleeves because she frequently engaged in sexual activities in the great outdoors. Greensleeves could just as well have been titled Grass Stains.  

Ewwww!

Can you imagine the looks they gave each other in church when What Child Is This? was sung for the first time in church? It would be like a modern composer setting Christian lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. However, it’s my guess that in 1865 that no one really thought much about the meaning behind Greensleeves and were simply happy to know the tune to the new Christmas carol. 

The truth is, the tune itself is amoral. It’s neither bad or good. It’s simply music. And I, for one, am happy that the tune Greensleeves was redeemed in a way and now helps us worship Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

Click here  to hear What Child is This? performed by Take 6.
Click Here to hear a version of Greensleeves performed by Tim Foust.

Image courtesy of David Beale and Unsplash