katallison: (Default)
That crazy kid [livejournal.com profile] kormantic has a great thread going on "Christmas songs you love to hate," and I read through it, nodding at the usual obvious culprits (Holly Jolly Christmas, blargh! Jingle Bell Rock, kill me now!)

But in a subtler and more sinister vein, there are Christmas carols that seem perfectly innocuous and likeable--as long as you stay with the first and best-known verse. Which is all that people usually do stay with, bless them (unless you're in one of those dismal carol-singing groups where there's always *one* person who's grimly determined to sing through *every freaking verse*, at top volume, veins standing out on his or her forehead, while everyone else hums along uneasily, throwing in a tentative random word here or there).

All of which is just a lead-in to the sad tale of Why We Three Kings Will Give Me The Wiggins For The Rest of My Life.

We Three Kings, you say? But that's a nice inoffensive carol -- low-key, stays within a manageable range, soon over, and hey, Star of Light, and all that nice stuff! Ah, but you say that because you were never a hapless ten-year-old in the clutches of the St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Christmas Pageant, given the role of the Third King, and hence required to stand up in front of the entire congregation and, in a wavery breathy child's soprano, sing the following ineffably Christmassy lyrics:
Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

I mean -- sealed in the stone-cold tomb??? *There's* the holly-jolly Christmas spirit for you, and granted I was a nervous child, but that thing freaked me *right* the hell out. Only a stern talking-to by Father Pitts, and a vigorous shove from my mother, got me out in front of the crowd to regale them with that little ditty, and for years afterward, if anyone in my family circle would launch into We Three Kings during the annual carol-singing, I would bodily leave the room.

Hell, that was probably one of those seminal experiences that set my feet on the dark and twisted path I still tread, muttering and wearing black leather jackets and causing innocent television characters lots of completely uncalled-for heartbreak.

(And for the record, as noted last year, my favorite carol is In the Bleak Midwinter. But only the first verse.)


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November 2009



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