Creative Commons image source: flickr.com/photos/miode/8398453134
Once again I am compelled to include a reminder that Christmas is twelve days long, and those days begin, not end, on December 25. So, having established that I'm right on time, here's the latest addition to Lo, Above the Earth, my work-in-progress Christmas Album: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
Like the Pogues, when it came time to record their timeless holiday classic, I thought a male/female duet would be a nice touch. Appearing in the role of lead chanteuse: Grace Clifford-- scholar, artist, athlete... and daughter to one very fortunate music producer.
The lyrics were written as a poem in 1863 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in the wake of a series of very distressing episodes in the poet's life, one of which was his son's involvement in American Civil War (that's what "rent the hearthstones of a continent"). Grace and I actually started working on this in December of 2016, to find some perspective and solace after our continent was once again disrupted-- this time by an election-- and talk of civil war in America suddenly became less than ludicrous.
Even a year on, it's too soon to feel certain that "the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail," but to sing, with my child, the words of a father who survived his own society's trauma six generations ago brings at least a measure of reassurance.