Christmas Eve and we are almost at the epic point of the holiday season. It’s Christmas Eve, the time when we invite family and friends to celebrate. And when it is impossible, there is the virtual celebration, which many of us are doing especially during the time of Covid-19. Our second to last day on the calendar takes us to Flensburg. The Christmas market was cancelled this year, yet the city took the effort to keep its tradition alive when it came to the Christmas tree. As a tradition, one will find the tree at Südermarkt along with the rest of the Christmas market huts and another one in the water at the Hafenspitze. This year, it remained as is, as the tree represents the symbol of peace and hope, of love and friendship and lastly, the coming of the Lord and the ushering in of a new era.
While 2020 is the year many of us wish to forget, 2021 will usher in a new era, an era of change, an era where we will need to find a way to adapt to the new things that will affect our lives in many aspects. What we saw with 2020 was something that was caused by multitudes of wrongdoings in the past and with that, we need to make some thorough changes in every single aspect. As we have seen in history, the tree is a sign of the coming of new life, something we need to acknowledge and take seriously, adapt and maintain in order for others to enjoy it too. What we saw with 2020 is the signal of change. What we will see in 2021 is the adapting to change, and in hopes for the better.
The coming of change can best be described in the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. One of key works that describes His coming is Psalm 150. Psalm 150 has been interpreted in many ways by many scholarly sources. Even one blogger featured a simpler explanation with poetry (Click here to read further). But for the most part, Psalm 150 reads in the King James Version of the Bible as follows:
- Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
- Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
- Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
- Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
- Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
- Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
In the sense of musical pieces, dozens of authors have arranged their own versions of the works of Psalm 150, which all have one thematic in mind: Baby Jesus is born, the baby who will become King and the baby who will bring righteousness to the Kingdom. We must praise Him for His arrival. Some works feature the crescendo version, similar to the sun rising, reaching its climax with the sound of a bang. One piece that comes to mind is the work by Dr. René Clausen, which was published in 1995 and has been used interchangeably with other Psalm 150 pieces in the Concordia College Christmas Concert since its debut in 1997. Featuring all the choirs and the sections of Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano, plus the orchestra and the brass, this piece has the features of a motion picture film, with the first half being devoted to the beginning and the last half, the end credits. When you have the opportunity to be involved in the piece with a choir or music group, you will understand why this piece is one of the best known modern works to date:
The most well-known of the musical pieces overall was composed by Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894). Psalm 150 was one of the liturgical pieces he wrote in 1879 and its setting is in a scene where good news is announced and there are scenes of joy throughout the piece, mostly written in a major chord. Upon his death in 1894, the engraving on his tombstone read Liebe macht das Lied unsterblich!” (Love makes the melody immortal!). Lewandowski’s piece has been modified in different forms and can be done in an concerto manner, like in the first example, yet some examples have been done in the form of jazz and gospel. The following two examples represent the examples of how it was done…..
Other musical forms of Psalm 150 have been composed, but in other musical styles, such as contemporary, pop and even Christian rock. However, the melody and meaning behind the birth of Jesus have remained the same in each of the lyrics, even though some of the words have been switched around.
Psalm 150 is what the Christmas tree stands for: a sign of a birth and a new hope. And like the coming of Jesus, the tree represents the coming of not only spring and with that new crops and all, but it also ushers in the new year, where when looking back on what we dealt with in 2020, 2021 will definitely be the year of hope and a new environment which we all have to get used to and help make better for others.
And this is what Christmas and the prized good we find in our living rooms, the Christmas tree is all about. ❤
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all. ❤
Sudermarkt photo courtesy of Corrina Schaffer. Hafenspitze photo courtesy of Flensburg Liebt Dich Instagram page.