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O.C. RELIGION | QUESTIONS OF FAITH

What's your favorite Christmas carol?

December 09, 2000

SENIOR PASTOR

CHUCK SMITH JR.

Capo Beach Calvary,

Capistrano Beach

Christmas carols belong to a unique genre in which theology and elegance are eclipsed by nostalgia. What carol finds the stored feelings from past Christmases? "Angels We Have Heard on High" has it all. The story, melody and sensible lyrics, all in the context of "glory to God in the highest."

THE REV. DIANE

JARDINE BRUCE

St. Clement's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, San Clemente

My favorite Christmas carol is "Once in Royal David's City." It is a wonderful telling of God's coming into the world, not in a place of high honor, but in a stable--focusing not on the rich but on the poor and needy. This carol speaks of Christ's life--and his walking among us as one of us, understanding our joys, hopes, shortcomings and pain.

RIC OLSEN

Pastor of global outreach, Harbor Trinity Church, Costa Mesa

"O Holy Night!" It is not a broad birth narrative, but a snapshot of the enormity of the moment, drawing out worship in the hearer. It is not a proclamation, but an invitation to participate in this pivotal moment in history.

THE REV. PETER D. HAYNES

St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Corona del Mar

"Joy to the World!," Isaac Watts' words set to G.F. Handel's "Antioch" tune, brings home the heart of Christmas' message. Joy is that total disposition of a person's spirit, the posture and bearing of our soul, that lies beneath physical sensations and seasonal disturbances. Joy is beyond reason and in the realm of belief. People go out of their way at this time of year to believe, to see the world with the eyes of children; we long for peace and reconciliation. This desire is to be celebrated; and the "joy" of God is for all, for "the world!"

SENIOR PASTOR

DOUG WEBSTER

Mountain View Church,

Mission Viejo

"O Come All Ye Faithful." The call to be with the almighty creator is a gracious, loving invitation to kneel at the side of a manger and adore the power and simplicity of a baby. From our knees we stand triumphantly. Whether in a church during a candlelight worship service or strolling the aisles of Target during a crowded shopping Saturday, the song causes me to stop and adore him, Christ the Lord.

COLLEGE PASTOR MIKE ERRE

Mariners Church, Irvine

My favorite Christmas carol is the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's "Messiah." For me, it captures the feeling of absolute and reverential joy that should be present when we reflect on what took place in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. To think that God "invaded" earth by taking human form so that we could have a relationship with him. What else could call forth such celebration?

PASTOR BILL GARTNER

Harbor Christian Fellowship, Costa Mesa

I have two favorite Christmas carols. One is "O Holy Night." I love the lyrics to this song, but it's the musical dynamics that make it one of my all-time favorites. It starts out very softly while telling the Christmas story, and then it builds in volume. I lose myself to the music and words of this song. My other favorite is Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." I like this song because it reminds me of home. Berlin wrote this song while staying in a hotel in my hometown in Banning over the Christmas holiday many years ago. That was his inspiration: He was absent from his usual white Christmas and wrote a song about it. So, whenever I hear this song, no matter where I am at, I think of home.

If you have an issue you'd like Questions of Faith to explore or would like to participate, please fax us at (714) 966-7711 or e-mail us at ocreligion@latimes.com.

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