Monday, December 24, 2018

Do you Hear What I Hear? Sounds like Passing the Buck

We hear songs all the time without really thinking about what their saying.  I never gave the song Baby it's Cold Outside a second thought until the recent controversy.  Recently I read a good critique of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Jade Saab called Be Useful or Die that argues that Rudolph became accepted after his nose became useful to Santa.

I've loved the song Do You Hear What I Hear.since I was a kid.  I always found it soothing in tense times.  The lyrics can be seen below.  It has four verses.  In the first two verses the night wind tells the little lamb about the star and then the little lamb tells the shepherd boy about a song high above the trees.  This sounds like how rumors get started.  Verses 3 and 4 can be seen below.

Said the Shepard boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

The Shepherd boy tells the king about the boy shivering in the cold and suggest they give him silver and gold.  Would silver and gold take away the boys chills by itself?  Couldn't the shepherd boy knit the boy a sweater?  He has plenty of access to wool.  It would itch like crazy though.  In Matthew's gospel the Wise Men or Magi only give the baby Jesus Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  The Shepherd boy wants to one up the Wise Men.

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

This king sounds a lot nicer than Herod the Great, who, according to Matthew's gospel, ordered the deaths of all firstborn baby boys under the age of three in Bethlehem after the Wise Men left.  Christian fundamentalists may see this as biblical revisionism.  I seldom hear it sung in Catholic church.  Other Churches might use it.  The song never mentions Jesus by name.  

The song was written in 1962 by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker.  According to Wikipedia, it was written as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Buon Natale a` tutti.

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