“Please do not take this as a criticism of your work…”

February 19, 2009

The kind but slightly odd words of a publisher politely declining to publish one of my Christmas carols included a phrase indicating their refusal isn’t criticism.

I realise they have a duty not to drive the hopelessly optimistic to suicidal self-loathing, but do they need to tell such a bare-faced lie? In an attempt to avoid comparisons with less kind feedback, have they simply pushed beyond the meanings of the words they use? Read the rest of this entry »


So you think you can write? – 310 days to Christmas

February 18, 2009

Further to yesterday’s post, I have been fretting about two carols I sent off to a publisher about a month ago. They generally sort out future Christmas material at this time of year, and have promised faithfully to let me know how things go when they’ve finished sorting through the masses of entries they must receive.

Did I apply those things I was moaning about yesterday? Only in part.

I accept I’m a hypocrite, but how difficult is it to write Christmas material? In the words of the hallowed Top Gear trinity, how hard can it be? I looked at most Christmas songs and came to the conclusion that most are a Christmas No.1, a traditional carol, or performed with too much enthusiasm to allow for embarrassment.

So, where does that leave the church I love so dearly? Seems to me it’s either cringing or whinging! The modern stuff isn’t what we expect at Christmas, or it’s not sacred enough, or it’s pants.

Some prefer to abandon the modern guitar-led worship for 6 weeks over December and Epiphany and return to organ led carolling. Some whine about how few Christmas hits are “religious” and buy the latest offering from a well known Christian pop star who used to hang around with the Young Ones when that was still an accurate description. Some write or rewrite stuff and hope for the best: that it will sound devoted and inspired regardless of the context or the content.

Sung Christan worship at Christmas time is going to involve more and more education as our society slowly loses hold of the Christmas message. Maybe in our slightly reduced financial circumstances it’s the ideal time to hear the message again. How can we sing about the Christ who came among us with the same ease we sing about the Christ who gave all for us? Can we find new carols to sing as we stand in shopping areas? Why not pick up your guitar when you go carol-singing, and present some music people can genuinely tap their feet to? If it’s taking Christ to the Christ-less, surely it’s doing the job. If it’s among or instead of the old carols “we know and love” and it’s doing the same job, surely that’s OK?