Venite Adoremus!

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1622)

No one is certain who wrote the original four verses of “Adeste Fideles,” known in English as “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Some have claimed it was Saint Bonaventure, others King John IV of Portugal, and still others an anonymous Cistercian monk during the High Middle Ages. The tune we’re familiar with is credited to John Francis Wade, and may have come to him in some form via the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The most familiar English translation is by an English Catholic priest named Frederick Oakley, and it is this version that will be sung on Christmas Eve in churches both Catholic and Protestant throughout the English-speaking world.

It one of many hymns, carols, and song that have been around for so long that no one knows for sure who wrote it. Many traditions are like that, whether widespread ones or those particular to families. Traditions root us in a rootless era, bringing back childhood memories and connecting us with long-departed predecessors. Celebrate yours this week whatever they may be.

And adore the One who came to make all the old things new.



The Best and Worst of Christmas TV

Chad Skelton of the Vancouver Sun writes today about “the best (and worst) TV Christmas specials.” His favorite?

For me, there’s no question what the best TV Christmas special is: The Grinch. Ever since I was a kid, I loved watching it at Christmas and it remains my all-time favourite. For me, it’s the perfect blend of absurdity and humour — with just a little bit of sappiness at the end.

He goes on to compliment Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, but criticizes the special itself as “boring . . . and a bit too preachy.”

Not surprisingly, I disagree. A Charlie Brown Christmas is my personal favorite. So many great moments: the so-called Christmas play that’s just an excuse for kids to dance, Lucy’s insistence on an aluminum tree, Snoopy’s first place award for his doghouse light display, and of course the pathetic little Christmas tree with the one ornament all but tipping it over. Then, when, Charlie Brown has all but lost hope, when in desperation he finally cries out “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is about?” Linus steps up and reads part of the Nativity story from St. Luke (KJV) concluding “That’s what’s Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Perhaps it’s because I’m Catholic, but I’m glad to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas each year.

So my choice for the best: A Charlie Brown Christmas (with the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas a close second).

And my worst: The live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It’s not even good for a laugh, it just sucks.