|A gift from one of my students|
One of the essentials of Christmas for me is its music. Many early memories are bound up with that, such as performing “The Friendly Beasts” with my third grade class, hearing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” from a Bing Crosby LP at my childhood home and the background music of Dutch children singing carols on the cassette player in the humble dwelling of my Opa and Oma.
Two songs are especially meaningful to me because they were sung at Christmas church services by amateur vocalists, everyday people who had a musical talent they were willing to share. The first was sung by a youth leader and carpenter who later took up urban ministry in Amsterdam. He introduced me to the words of the Scott Wesley Brown piece called “This Little Child.” I was struck by its ability to draw together the child in the manger with the life he lived and expectation of his return to our broken world.
“Who would have thought this little child
Was who the prophets said
Who will return to judge the word, the living and the dead.
Oh, can’t you see that long ago, so very far away, this little child was born a King
that day?” 
The second singer was a retired dairy farmer with a booming tenor voice. I’ll never forget his rendition of “O Holy Night.” After a long period of being unable to speak or sing due to a stroke, this man is now with the Lord, no doubt praising him once more.
“Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.”