Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins~★★★

Author: Ace Collins
Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas
Release Date:
October 1st, 2001

Book Jacket: "Behind the Christmas songs we love to sing lie fascinating stories that will enrich your holiday celebration. Taking you inside the nativity of over thirty favorite songs and carols, Ace Collins introduces you to people you've never met, stories you've never heard, and meanings you'd never have imagined.
The next you and your family sing 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,' you'll have a new understanding of its message and popular roots. You'll discover how 'Angels from the Realms of Glory,' with its sublime lyrics and profound theology, helped usher in a quiet revolution in worship. You'll learn the strange history of the haunting and powerful 'O Holy Night,' including the song's surprising place in the history of modern communications. And you'll step inside the life of Mark Lowry and find out how he came to pen the words to the contemporary classic 'Mary, Did You Know?'
Still other songs such as 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' trace back to mysterious origins---to ninth-century monks, nameless clergy, and unknown commoners of ages past. Joining hands with such modern favorites as 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song,' they are part of the legacy of inspiration, faith, tears, love, and spiritual joy that is Christmas.
From the rollicking appeal of 'Jingle Bells' to the tranquil beauty of 'Silent Night,' the great songs of Christmas contain messages of peace, hope, and truth. Each in its own way expresses a facet of God's heart and celebrates the birth of his greatest gift to the world---Jesus, the most wonderful Christmas Song of all."

Taryn's Review: I think this book would be a great one to kick off the beginning of December. I would be really fun to read two or three of the song stories a night until Christmas Eve. I really liked the book because it included some songs you know by heart, but other songs  in the book aren't heard often on the radio or on your favorite Christmas CD. I actually brought up YouTube and searched for some of my favorite songs and I looked up the ones I hadn't heard of before, like "Good King Wencesles."

Do I believe the author on some of his histories regarding the songs? No. He cited nothing; he would tell the reader the origin of the selected song was a mystery, but didn't often clarify the facts from fiction. I chose just to take the book at face value and enjoy what could be the history of some of the songs.

At one point in the book, the author claimed that one theologian was "less-educated" than another when talking about the Bible. I don't think it was fair to say being "less-educated" because the reader was not told  how Collins defined "educated," so that created another issue. Collins had his own biases in writing the book from his religious standpoint, and at times it filtered through in his stories about how the songs came about.

I do wish Collins would have started each story with the lyrics or put the lyrics at the end of each history. The lyrics were just randomly printed on various pages in each story. It was annoying to be mid-sentence, turn the page, only to find the next page was the song itself, and then the next page continued the story. I don't like to be interrupted and I felt like that's what the lyrics did in their placement.

Overall, a cute Christmas collection in my opinion. I really enjoyed looking up the songs afterward and listening to them as well. I wouldn't take the book as factual on all accounts, but it was nice to have memories drummed up of songs from the past.

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