Stumbling on Happiness, is the book I mentioned before as one that I had just peeped into before wrapping it as a gift for someone interested in psychology. I keep up on the research about happiness pretty well, and hadn’t expected to learn much from this book, but as you know (if you have read my blog much) I really like books about science written with wit and verve. This book was reputed to be such a book, and it seemed as though it would be a good gift.

I had to read the whole thing. Gilbert is not running over the current knowledge on happiness, though he does include all that. He is saying “We know lots about happiness, we have amazing freedom of choice, so why do we screw up our lives all the time?” And, in particular, he explains — with wit and verve and I might even say charm — the things about human psychology that cause us to be wrong with such stunning frequency. This is a very enjoyable book.

Today’s song is “All My Heart This Night Rejoices.” Here is the sheet music. This is another stunningly gorgeous tune, and if you can gather up a little SATB group to sing it in parts, you should. You could also listen to it, as it has been recorded by Robert Shaw and his crew.

See, this is why I have a different experience of Christmas music. There are so many beautiful pieces of music for this season, my feeling is that I only have about a month to enjoy them all, which mostly means that I only get to hear or sing this masterpiece once a year. You may feel that way about mince pie or Buche de Noel. We rarely hear people saying “Oh, I hate Christmas food! They start serving it so early!” Well, this is how I feel about Christmas music.

“All My Heart” has angelic visitations in it again.

“All my heart this night rejoices,
as I hear,
far and near,
sweetest angel voices;
“Christ is born,” their choirs are singing,
Till the air,
everywhere,
now with joy is ringing.”

Here is a version with a lot of verses, since you will doubtless want to sing this for a long time.

I don’t know whether I’ve ever told you about the angelic visitations at our house.

It was when #1 son was about three years old. He was bothered for some days by angels, who, he would tell us crossly in the morning, kept waking him up. He was completely serious, not playing around, and he now has no memory of it at all.

The interesting thing to me is that, of all the possible explanations for this that we considered at the time, the possibility that there were angels visiting him was not even on our radar screen. I have since met people who do not find it as difficult as I do to entertain mystical thoughts, who point out that we had to take this child to the emergency room with asthma when he was a baby, that angels would be excellent at making sure he kept breathing in the night, that they could have been there to save his life, etc.

All I can say is that we never thought of that at the time.