I helped out at the Alternative Market at church yesterday, selling the church history book. I shared a table with Altrusa, and there were tables for a variety of other nonprofits around the room.

I finished up my Christmas shopping and most of The Little’ Girl’s Christmas hat, and had desultory conversation with a number of ladies of my age and station. We discussed our children and grandchildren, knitting, news, Facebook, the best solutions for homelessness, the inaccuracy of medical information online and the needs of children in that and various other contexts. It was pleasant.

Afterwards, I went to redeem a bookstore gift card, because there is no such thing as too many books.

I slipped out to sing in the service. The anthem was “Celebration Song” by Patrick Liebergen after George Frideric Handel. It is an arrangement of Haden’s work intended for youth as well as general choirs.

This is quite different from yesterday’s song, “This Babe,” which asked us to join with an infant and his musters of shepherds in battle against Satan. This invites Jesus to come to Bethlehem and hang out in the manger while we praise and celebrate Him with carols and anthems.

A decorous preparation for Christmas.

Liebergen is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. He’s particularly known as an editor and arranger, but is also a composer. While we often have more colorful stories about the hymn composers of old, I’m delighted to have living composers of Christmas music, so that we are likely to have more of it in future.

Handel is of course the author of Messiah, and possibly the hottest of hot stuff where Christmas music is concerned. As an anonymous poet put it,

… But Handel’s harmony affects the soul,
To sooth by sweetness, or by force controul;
And with like sounds as tune the rolling spheres,
So tunes the mind, that ev’ry sense has ears.
When jaundice jealousy, and carking care,
Or tyrant pride, or homicide despair,
The soul as on a rack in torture keep,
Those monsters Handel’s music lulls to sleep.