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Monday, December 03, 2012

Day 3 - "Breath of Heaven" by Vince Gill - 25 Days of Christmas Angst

Friday Morning Reflection 9/28/12
Not a moonless night (a moonless morning), but it works.
For today's song, it would be best if you listen to it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irG8wrvF3do), and/or read the lyrics below.  You can also buy the song as part of A Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary.  I recommend buying the full Vince Gill album, but I have only been able to find it available as a CD (Breath Of Heaven: A Christmas Collection).

I have a huge nostalgic connection to this whole album.  I bought my copy after seeing Vince Gill in a concert where he performed all of these songs.  I was still in college and my parents came to La Crosse to visit me and go to this concert with me.  It is a nice holiday memory.  I am sure I will be mentioning this concert a few more times in posts over the next few days.  This nostalgia is the main reason why this is the only album in this list twice. 

This song was written by Amy Grant (Vince Gill's wife) and Chris Eaton.  Grant wrote and performed this song from the point of view of Mary (http://youtu.be/lTqBZW0BRMY).  Gill modified the lyrics slightly so his version of the song  is from Joseph's point of view.  I really appreciate Grant's attempt to take a different point of view on a very familiar story.  I, however, like Gill's version much more.

I like Vince Gill's voice more.  But that is only part of my attraction to this song.  Mary's story has been told many times and in many ways.  It seems only right that Joseph's contributions and turmoil should get some attention.

Before I go any further, I must interject a caution here.  I am about to discuss topics directly related to religion.  I have only touched on the fringes of these topics in these Christmas posts up till now.  Understand that I am going to discuss the birth of Jesus and you might read something that you disagree with here.  You do not have permission to read any further unless you agree to the following:

*I understand that Carney Lentz is not writing about religion as an expert theologian.  He is writing from the point of view of a cultural observer, a literary analyst, and an agnostic/skeptic/atheist.

*I also understand that Carney Lentz in the following commentary is not attacking my religion; carrying out a deliberate act of blasphemy intended to hurt me, my religion, or my loved ones; nor is he the anti-Christ.

If you cannot agree to these two points, please stop reading this post.

Preview the remaining days of angst or review the previous days here:   

Joseph is an admirable character because he accepts what Mary tells him with no questions.  Gill's version of this song is built on that premise.  Joseph is not fretting over whether he should believe his wife or not; he is worried that he is not worthy of raising this child.

It would be cynical and easy to label Joseph as naive or simple minded to explain this unquestioning acceptance.  Christianity would not exist if the gospels talked about Joseph leaving Mary because he suspected her of being unfaithful.  The fact that there was no paternity tests and that The Jerry Springer Show and Maury were a few thousand years from existing is not enough to explain Joseph's acceptance of and relationship to Jesus.

This song explains it.  Joseph loves his wife, believes in her implicitly, and wants to do everything in his power to care for the child she carries even though he knows it isn't his.

Joseph struggles with more than this though.  He is completely committed to his wife and yet he still struggles with feeling alone.  While Joseph's loneliness is of a very particular variety, it is still something that all of us can understand and connect to.

If you are alone in the Christmas season, it is impossible to feel as joyous and hopeful as when you are with someone/others.  However, Joseph's story, as presented in this song, points out that even if you are in a relationship you can still feel lonely.

Today we lament the lack of actual connections.  In general, we expect our relationships to allow us to feel connected. Those two things are different; we often have actual, meaningful connections but they don't create the feeling we are looking for.  Perhaps we are expecting too much?

In this time of year we see the movies, TV shows, and people around us appearing to display the kind of connections we long for.  It is easy to become jealous and depressed when faced with everyone's happiness.  Most people have at least a few moments in this time of year when they need help to lighten their darkness.

Breath of Heaven
as performed by Vince Gill

We have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done 
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen my love to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am troubled by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser man should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven

25 Days Of Christmas Angst
Day Song Download/Purchase Info
3 "Breath of Heaven" by Vince Gill Buy the CD:

A Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary:
note: The song is available only as part of the full album.
I recommend buying Vince Gill's Christmas album titled, Breath of Heaven: A Christmas Collection. I have only been able to find it available as a physical CD, however.
You can get this one song as an mp3, but you have to purchase the full album listed to the left.
2 "Ave Maria" by Aretha Franklin Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Don't settle for the version from the This Christmas album. Get the older and better version from One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.
1 "White Christmas" by Uncle Crow
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Get this free album from C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply. There are other Christmas cigar box guitar albums discussed here.

Click this link to preview the remaining days of angst:  http://www.carneylentz.com/p/25-days-of-christmas- angst.html
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