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Ruth Walker

I smile when thinking about whether I agree with the words after reading several years ago about atheist David Randolph, who directed Handel’s Messiah more times than anyone else (including at Carnegie Hall). He said he refused to let words get in the way of good music! He died last May at the age of 95.

http://www.artistsinternational.com/david_randolph.html

How he justified it with his atheism is explained here:

http://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/articles/in-memoriam-david-randolph-1914-2010/

Cea

Love your article. I'm pagan so finding non-Christian carols is hard to do. A lot of yours are on my list for the same reasons. Try the Pink Martini holiday CD for a very eclectic mix. My favorite is a New Years song in Chinese and, they have Carol of the Bells in Ukrainian.
Enjoy the holidays and thanks for a fun article.

Athyco

One of my favorites is "It Feels Like Christmas" from The Muppet's Christmas Carol.

Cath the Canberra Cook

Well, I'm not crazy about this list, I like the old tunes better. But I'm something of a music geek, a chorister, and also I like the fun dark stuff. Myrrh is mine, and all that blood imagery. And Gloria in Excelsis Deo in 4 part harmony with descants... But didn't you have a post on enjoying this last year, Greta? Have you changed your mind?

I also like the cutesy medieval ones in which the story is morphing into folk tale, with all the cliched tropes. The cherry tree carol, and Great King Herod's cock! And then there was this one otherwise boring song I did this year that had a lot of SM-like imagery, with gazing rapturously on his wounds and stuff. O Come Quickly! *snicker*

Ben

Ugh. A worthy post, but I fear that by ruling out all music with reference to Christ you've also ruled out all music written by trained professionals. The list you're left with consists of songs that make my skin crawl because they are an offense to the notion of "music".

Yes, I'm a music snob, obviously. And a musician, albeit an amateur.

I'm an atheist and always have been, but one of my all-time favourite pieces is Bach's St. Matthew Passion. I even learned some Christianity (not to mention some German) so I could understand the piece a little better. Now I know why it's usually played at Easter, but that doesn't diminish my appreciation of the music.

You have a lovely article called "Trekkie Religion and Secular Judaism". It seems that this article would be a great place to provide context and a strong motive for secular Christianity (er, anti-semitism is a noble part of our cultural heritage???)? At least it would leave some pieces written by actual composers in your ok-list.

One more thought: would making sure to sing plenty of songs from other religions' solstice festivals take the curse off the mention of Jesus? Most everyone has a solstice festival of some sort. Of course, I'm not convinced that any non-Christian culture has ever achieved musical greatness ;)

Last idea: it would be fun to write a "Christmas carol" about the facts--the doubt about Christ's existence, the knowledge that he was definitely not born in December, the history of atrocities and lies and usurpings of other religions' tropes--in Latin or Hebrew or something, and set it to a really beautiful and memorable tune.

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