A Place For All To Worship

Day 25 | Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Music

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is God that made us, and we are God’s; we are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture. Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise. Give thanks to God, bless the Lord’s name. For the Lord is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 100

It was not without reason that the ancestors and prophets 
wanted nothing else to be associated 
as closely with the Word of God 
as music… 

Martin Luther

For many years, Christmas with my family meant going to hear my dad’s Dixieland band play in the hotels in Waikiki, on Sunday afternoons and in the early evenings, five to nine P.M. the rest of the week. The band, and the music itself, had become a kind of ministry for my dad. He’s a preacher’s kid, after all. They always attracted a group of dancers, mostly middle-aged couples, and I loved to watch the complicated steps—the Balboa, the Charleston— done with such evident ease. On Christmas Eve, they’d get couples stopping in for a few dances before going to Mass, but for other people, my dad’s version of “O Holy Night”—with the band’s singer, Sydette, in a sexy silver lamé cocktail dress, and him on cello—was about all the religion they were going to get. And people took it seriously; the dance floor would clear, the cabaret would quiet down. It was so serious, in fact, that the song occasioned the only act of violence the band witnessed in over ten years at the club. One year a tipsy couple remained on the dance floor, moving suggestively, clinging to each other more than dancing, and a bodybuilder—one of those intensely muscular men who was unbelievably light on his feet when doing the fox trot with his wife—lost his temper. “This is religious music, dammit,” he said, picking up the couple and depositing them, more or less gently, on a sofa. Sydette and my dad kept on going.1

Kathleen Norris


O God,
Lover of humanity,
Joy of creation:
Pour out your Spirit on us
that we may hear your ancient words in a new key.
Inspire us to sing your praise
in every land and with every generation,
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Go deeper

Though St. Olaf Christmas Festival was not performed in 2020, the college put together a compilation of music from the 2019 festival. I encourage you to follow the link below to hear their glorious offering released on November 29, 2020: https://www.stolaf.edu/singforjoy/listen/2020-11-29

  1. Norris, Kathleen. The Cloister Walk (pp. 82-83). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.