I was 22, had graduated from university a year earlier, and thought, after ruling out retail, I might try my hand at retail merchandising. If you’re scratching your chin at this point, wondering why after having a degree, I would do something like merchandising, I’ll tell you the degree was in English. While I know now that there are many, many things you can do with an English degree, I was extremely shy and definitely not one to seek out great adventures, so I just took up whatever I stumbled into. (That changed, fortunately.)
Anyway, it was December and we were having a stockroom party. I provided the music, which started out as classical choral Christmas. Having grown up in a house of eclectic musical tastes, it never occurred to me that my classical Christmas music was “inappropriate” until my associate, we’ll call him “P” because I don’t remember his name but he was a little pompous so we’ll go with that, asked me to play “real” Christmas music, indicating that my music tastes were not hip or popular. Somehow Kiri Te Kanawa’s soaring soprano failed at being “real” Christmas music (wink) and I learned the lesson that Christmas music is not the same for all people.
Fast forward years later to another Christmas party in which my friend Lanlan asked me to share that “beautiful” station of Christmas music I’d been listening to in the office: Christmas choral classics on Pandora. It was a different place. A different group of people who were my work family. And a place where maybe I was meant to be all along. (I even used my English degree 😉 .) Yes, we do live and learn.
“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” is a German Christmas carol and Marian Hymn (hymns devoted to Mary) dating from the late 16th century. It’s not one of the more common songs, but it may be one of the most beautiful in my opinion. An Atlantic Monthly article calls it a “musician’s carol.”
I believe that beautiful music, such as this carol, transcends religion, and becomes a prayer unto itself for whatever peace one is seeking.
An interesting and misleading side note is that if you Google the lyrics, you will be told via Lyric Find that one Gordon Sumner (aka Sting) provided the lyrics. This Google gave me a giggle.
It came a flow’ret bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night
Soprano Renee Fleming and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
Es Ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Praetorius) The Gesualdo Six at Ely Cathedral
Mannheim Steamroller Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming