I was amazed by how many carols I remembered from my school days as I sung out with gusto my own Christmas karaoke, following the words on the screen. The service ended with a rousing – and far too high for me, rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
I almost ruptured myself trying to get the top notes and retreated into a lower, and less harmonious octave, in order to preserve my manhood.
However, the most moving part for me was the traditional choir of kids doing their innocent rendition of “Away in a Manger.”
“I love thee Lord Jesus…”
I remembered a time when, no doubt in some obligatory Primary school pageant, I too, as an afraid and vulnerable child, sung out these same words with the same docile and naive conviction. I dug deep into memory, trying to recall the convictions of an 8-year-old spirit. Yes, I really believed it then and found, in all the menace and confusion of my childhood world, solace and security in that “Little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.”
Decades of life have overlain the my childhood faith – I have learnt to become “as shrewd as a snake”. Just as the dipping of a “Madeleine” biscuit into his tea brought back a host of living memories to Marcel Proust, I felt those child voices calling me back to a place of purer faith. “In Search of lost time” – well perhaps, but more like a quest for lost innocence.
While the mood lingers, I attempt a prayer…a white haired child sings anew:
“Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there.”