Quite possibly my favourite Christmas album of all is Celtic Christmas from Eden's Bridge. With some of the more popular carols in O Come Emmanuel and Silent Night come also less familiar (to me, at least) Coventry and Sussex Carols, How Brightly Shone the Moon and the confessional Christmas is with us again.
There are two songs for Mary – Breath of Heaven (made popular back in the day by Amy Grant), and Magnificat.
What I love about songs for Mary at Christmas is the wondering into the gaps left by the biblical stories. The pondering in her heart at the things the shepherds said, in Luke's version, becomes the wondering at what she knew in Mary did you know? The blessings of the generations takes on a profound nuance when sung generations later by spiritual descendants in blessing. Breath of heaven takes Mary's – how can this be, and here am I – and sings the hope and the trust in God whose gift she gladly receives with trembling.
I am torn, however, on whether I like the allusions to Jesus' death and resurrection in Christmas songs. Part of me wants to let this story of birth and light be what it is. Part of me knows that this is but one chapter in a bigger story. So perhaps there is room for both stubborn immersion in the nativity, and acknowledgement of Mary's boy-child all grown up and giving up life for love.
And the magnificat itself? Well, is that not a glorious song of hope for just and right relationships that ensure enough for all? Sing, Mary, sing – and let us all join in.