Yeah, I know it's the wee small hours of Christmas morning and I should be asleep, but I can't because I appear to have picked up some sort of bug tonight that means I'm sneezing and coughing so much that my throat and chest hurt. Doesn't exactly make sleep an easy thing to get, so instead of going insane, I'm doing this instead.
I'm gonna say something I don't hear said very often:
Christmas Carols are fucking weird.
First of all, I find the concept of Christmas Carols a little odd. Why aren't there other well known songs for other religious events? Has anyone ever thought of writing a collection of Easter Eulogies?
Secondly, most Christmas Carols seem to have had no compositional effort put into them whatsoever, certainly not in the lyrics anyway. For example, take 'The Holly & The Ivy.'
Now, let's start with the title. For a song that is about holly AND ivy, it seems a little odd that ivy is only mentioned twice. Once in the first line of the first verse, and in the first line of the last verse, which is just the first verse repeated. The song mentions holly in almost every verse, but ivy is pretty much totally ignored.
The lyrics themselves are mostly unbelievably lazy comparisons between holly and the birth of Jesus. Take this verse:
'The holly bears a prickle,
as sharp as any thorn,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
on Christmas day in the morn.'
Right. What is that verse actually saying? It seems pretty obvious that whoever wrote it was intending to say that holly bears something very painful just as Mary did in the act of giving birth, but both do so valiantly and should be celebrated for this. Problem is that what holly bears is not actually pain but something that gives pain. Therefore what the song is actually saying is that Mary has given birth to something that will give pain. Yep. Sorry, but this lyric is so weak that it says the opposite of what it actually intends to.
Think I'm wrong? Think I'm overdoing it somewhat? Okay, let's take the previous verse:
'The holly bears a berry,
as red as any blood,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
to do poor sinners good.'
Okay, first thing's first. What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?! It's seemingly just two random statements put together in the hope no-one will notice. It's like it was written by a child with ADHD just saying the first things that come into their head. You may as well have a song that goes 'The grass is green in the park / and I ate chicken for lunch today / and ice is cold.' It makes just as much sense.
Unless you actually look at the comparison being made. It does make sense, just not the sense the writer wants to convey.
If you look up holly on Wikipedia, the first line states that 'Holly berries are somewhat toxic to humans,' which considering that the following line is about the birth of Jesus would seem to suggest that Jesus' reason for being is to do harm to sinners. It's the 'cruel to be kind' principle. That is the only logical conclusion one can come to in comparing a holly berry to Jesus Christ doing 'poor sinners good'.
I could go on, but I feel I should move on.
Because this is by no means the only carol with ludicrous lyrics. Take this verse from 'O Come All Ye Faithful':
'God of God,
light of light,
lo! He abhors not the virgin womb;
begotten not created.'
Sorry? What? Are the wombs of virgins normally supposed to be abhorred? What on Earth does this line mean? What on Earth is it even supposed to mean?! It sounds more like a prog rock lyric than a Christmas Carol!
Elsewhere, we learn that Jesus was born after his due date in Hark The Herald Angels Sing; 'Christ, the everlasting Lord, / late in time behold him come, / offspring of a Virgin's womb!' Now, don't you all feel better for knowing that?
Aw, I had another one and I've lost it now.
So I shall leave you with this verse from 'We Three Kings' which explains why Myrrh was given as a gift to the baby Jesus:
'Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.'