Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Silly Christmas Lyric Meme: Silent Night

A couple of years ago I started a silly Christmas lyric meme where I take a song that we hear countless times during the Christmas season and point out a part of it that makes we wonder, confuses me or is worth exploring if merely for the humour of it . . . (feel free to play along and share your own silly thoughts about Christmas lyrics on your own blog)

The Rules: Pick a Christmas lyric that you've always had a question about and discuss it. Then either tag one or more people or either tag nobody and invite your readers to tag themselves and enjoy discussing the subject on their own.

Feel free to use the "Cousin Eddie" image by copying the following code and replacing the '(' and ')' with '<' and '>' :

(a href="")(img src="" alt="Mark Leslie's Silly Christmas Lyric meme" /)

The Song: Silent Night (originally written in German as Stille Nacht by the Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr and composed by Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1863, John Freeman Young translated it into the English version sung today)

Lyrics In Question: "Holy infant so tender and mild."

The Comment: First of all, I find this song, overall, to be a peaceful song inspiring reflection. The melody is soothing and sometimes when performed it gives me an overall sense of calm and belief that all is right with the world.

And then there's the fact of what this simple line stirs up, thanks to Francine mentioning it the other night. I understand what "tender and mild" is supposed to convey. But it can come across as if one is trying to describe a pot roast.

Q: "How do you find the pot roast?"

A: "It's absolutely delicious. It's so tender."

Q: "You don't find the seasoning too overpowering?"

A: "Not at all. It's quite mild. This roast is so perfectly tender and mild."

Q: "So you find the meal quite satisfying?"

A: "Definitely. After such a fine meal I'm going to sleep in heavenly peace."

Q: "Sleep in heavenly peace?"

A: "Exactly."

I know, I know, I've likely offended a whole group of people, particularly people from my own faith. But ever since Fran mentioned the "tender and mild" thing, I can't help thinking about how while it does describe an infant slumbering so wonderfully, it also stirs up culinary references. And it leads perfectly to a Catholic ritual which kind of ties in and which I have actually used in a horror story I wrote called "From Out of the Night" which was originally published in 1997 then reprinted in my collection One Hand Screaming in 2004.

The Blessed Sacrament (or Holy Communion) commemorates the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before being crucified. He gave them bread and wine and said to it was his body and blood and they should eat it in remembrance of him. I understand the sacrament, but, stepping back and looking at it perhaps from an "outsider's" view, it seems an awful lot like a type of cannibalism of our savior. That's the element I refer to in "From Out of the Night" - a horror story in which I have a paranoid protagonist believing that the Catholics next door are cannibals who consume their savior as part of their ritual. I was tempted to title this post: "Cannibalistic Christmas" but might just save that for another dark humour horror story.

If you're curious to read my previous Christmas Lyric memes (likely the less offensive ones because in them I don't toy around with anyone's faith), here are links to the original 2006 (The Christmas Song) and the 2007 (Silver Bells) posts.

And, of course, please feel free to play along yourself and let me know you've done so by leaving a comment here.


Anonymous said...

LMAO!!! Oh this is brilliant!!! :) I might just have to play along with this one! I'll let you know!

lime said...

ok i am stifling giggles rather unsuccessfully because as i am reading this my daughter is watching "the passion of the christ."

all i can think of is a pot roast in the manger as all the shepherds and angels and joseph and mary marvel over its magnificence.

so just how big a sin is it to snigger at THAT imagery while graphic portrayals of the scourging play in the background?

as for the cannibalistic bit, i think i mentioned once before that idea figures prominently in robert heinlein's "stranger in a strange land."

(M)ary said...

I did a silly Christmas Lyric meme this year! Thanks for the idea.