Monday, December 24, 2018

My Spirits of Christmas Past

There are two Christmas carols that evoke in me what Brazilians call saudade (sow-da-gee): a nostalgic yearning for another time, place, or person.  The reason for this was a momentous occurrence in my life as a child: my parents gave a small portable child-workable record player to my older brother, Paul, and me. We were probably about five and four years old, respectively. For the first time ever, we were able to play music by ourselves!  Today's kids, with digital music players of all sorts available to them,  could probably not even imagine the thrill this was for Paul and me.

Of course, later we had children's records to play, but the first one I remember playing on our exotic new device had a grand total of two songs on it, one on each side. These were instrumental versions of "Masters in this Hall" and "March of the Kings." We played this record over and over, marching around and feeling very proud to be in control of this music ourselves.

Here are "modern" recordings of them both (Of course, there was no singing on our record, let alone in French). I've included some of the lyrics here, just to remind you what they were about.



This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east as they came riding proudly,
This great day, I met upon the way
The kings of east in all their fine array.
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh,
Were guarded close by a band of sturdy warriors,
Their swords, their shields, and their bucklers bright
Agleam and sparkling in the morning light.


Here is the other carol, "Masters in this Hall"




Masters in this hall Hear ye news today, Brought from overseas And ever you I pray: Noel, noel, noel, Sing we noel clear! Holpen all the folk on earth Born the Son of God so dear!

Of course, more than sixty years later, that record is no longer in existence, and, unfortunately, neither is my brother. These songs are still vividly recorded in my head, however. Whenever I hear them, I feel a little burst of saudade, memory, and nostalgia, feeling proud of being "grown up" enough to play music with my big brother Paul, and missing him terribly.