Christmas belongs to everyone and so its music is a voice that brings us together in a period of good will. When you take the few moments to realize just how old some of these Christmas songs are, you begin to realize that these songs of faith hold an important element of solidity, one that is transformed by the myriad of voices and races that sing them.
For almost 20 years, Brian O’Donovan has programmed his A Celtic Sojourn with a Christmas show that melds with the audiences in an attempt to capture the familial community. In an age where we seem to be wilting from wars, threats of war, shifting governments, looming environmental disasters, and a growing lack of belief in the common good, these gatherings have the old feeling of one ideal. It is that ideal that we can bathe in if only for a short season.
This Live version of A Christmas Celtic Sojourn follows previous Rounder releases (A Christmas Celtic Sojourn; Comfort and Joy: A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, Volume II). This CD is also the audio portion of a more satisfying DVD offering, which showcases the entire show. However, it is still great to slip this disc in and fall into a holiday spell that lingers after the music finishes, leaving memories of “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel,” audience participation with “Angels We have Heard on High,” and a great version of one of the classic beauties of Christmas hymns, the Holst musically composed “In the Bleak Midwinter” (hunt down and enjoy the superb version of the song by Siddal – to die for). All of these songs are celebrated in the Celtic brogue and style of music, adding a touch of internationalism to these classics and Celtic traditionals.
The Christmas season begins, for me, at the beginning of November, and, for two months, I immerse myself in the promise of a better world, one that can be attained amidst struggle.
Merry Christmas, and thanks to Brian O’Donovan, Rounder, and a host of others in their contribution of Christmas cheer. God knows we can use it.