Tag Archives: Christmas

Leontyne Price in Aida

And the Soul Felt its Worth

Seems each year that passes, Christmas is getting less exciting. Christmas 2021 is competing not only with the devastation caused by COVID-19 response, but also with the drumbeat of identity politics. Maybe it is time to dial back. Maybe it is time to regain some “Christmas Spirit.”

Here is one way to do both: Sit back and listen to Leontyne Price sing Oh Holy Night. Better yet, also listen to a Price interview, where she is fun, loving, and oh, so self-assured.

Picture above shows Leontyne Price performing one of her most famous operatic parts, Aida. Picture below shows Price in an interview with Anthony Tommasini, chief classical critic at the New York times.

Oh Holly Night and Leontyne Price seem to fit together well. The song talks about Jesus moving people away from desperation to a feeling of self-worth and new beginnings:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…

Leontyne Price has absolutely no doubt about her worth as a human being or an accomplished singer. She said:

Accomplishments have no color.

To sing is the most human of the art form delivery, more than, perhaps, an instrument which has to be tuned mechanically. You are the tuner; you are the vessel. Everything depends on how you feel as a person. It is for you to hear how beautiful your instrument is.

In Leontyne Price’s interview with Anthony Tommasini, she talks about her voice range. Her point is you need to know what you want to achieve, visualize the result, and be in complete charge of what you need to do to accomplish what you want. In other words, feel your worth.

Like liberty, self worth is God given. You either find it in yourself or, to your detriment, you wait for others to decide to give it to you or not.

Merry Christmas

This Will Be A Difficult Christmas

This will be a difficult Holiday Season. So many without jobs. So many fearful. Thus, just maybe listening to “Joy to the World” or wishing family and friends (whom we are forbidden to see) a “Merry Christmas” could feel like cognitive dissonance. Just maybe, instead, this could be a good time to remember the challenges Mary and Joseph overcame just prior to Baby Jesus’ birth.

Those were great spiritual and physical challenges, the reminiscence of which could be useful regardless of whether we are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or nothing at all.

Spiritual Decisions

We all must struggle with poignant decisions at points in our lives. Accepting momentous obligations qualifies as hugely poignant.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus …Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1 31-34.

Mary, chaste and betrothed to Joseph, accepted her instructions, although she must have known that if Joseph cast her out, her punishment by law would be death by stoning.

Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away quietly … But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared onto him in a dream …

A man of faith as well as compassion, Joseph followed the angel’s command. Not an easy task.

The Long Journey

The physical challenges Mary and Joseph prevailed close to Jesus’ birth might be as useful to remember as their spiritual ones.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2 1-5

Bethlehem is 80 – 100 miles, depending on the route, from Nazareth. It is rough, mountainous, and at the time dangerous terrain. This map shows the route (green dots on the right) Mary and Joseph would have taken, not a direct route but a safer one. The direct route would have taken them through Samarian land, hostile to Jews.

The Story of the Gift of Christmas. Lux Mundi, December 17, 1917

Strong Souls Forge On

Women heavy with child have traveled the overland trails and refugee caravans. Mary forged through as well – probably on foot, not even on a donkey.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1

As the saying goes “What have you done with what you have been given” The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the guy who crystalized the meaning of Christianity was born in a bed of straw.

The Soul Must Feel Its Worth

There is one carol that could help if in these trying times of Covid-19 and mandates your business is failing or your children have not received proper schooling since the beginning of 2020. That is the carol that speaks of the soul feeling its worth. Here is a link to the incredible voice of Leontyne Price singling Oh Holy Night.