On Sunday, I had the great pleasure of hearing the Santa Barbara City College Quire of Voices give their Christmas concert. Aside from the fact they don’t know how to spell Choir — and I mean, what’s up with that? — they are truly a great group, no exaggeration. I was reflecting as I listened to their beautiful selection that there is no other religion that puts such an emphasis on rejoicing. The Christian injunction and impulse to joy is so central and powerful that theologians and churches have spent two thousand years inventing reasons to suppress it. Really, I sometimes think every sermon every Sunday could consist of five words: “Rejoice. Give thanks. Forgive. Love.” All the rest is chin music.
Speaking of which, I also sometimes think there is no greater proof of the truth of Christianity than the unparalleled beauty of its music. The Quire sang two of my absolute favorite pieces. To share them, I chose, not the Quire’s, but the clearest versions I could find online. The first is the Ave Maria of Franz Biebl, composed in 1964. Biebl was a one hit wonder, but how close to perfect is this?
The second is by USC grad and Angelino Morten Lauridsen: O, Magnum Mysterium, which translated goes a little something like this:
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Merry Christmas from Klavan on the Culture. Rejoice. Give thanks. Forgive. Love. And did I mention: rejoice!