One of my favorite things about this time of year is the way that it encourages reflecting on the past, both personal and historical. Memories of my dad and my childhood are very happy ones. Another of my favorite things about Christmastime is the music. It’s just about the only time of year to hear Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. One of the carols of the season goes back quite a bit before my personal history. In fact, 17 or more generations of Power men have passed since the song Greensleeves was first registered at the London Stationer’s Company, in 1580. It wasn’t a Christmas song until almost three centuries later when William Chatterton Dix, bed-ridden and near death at only 29 years old wrote the lyrics:
What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
He set his lyrics to this melody and it became a Christmas carol. With or without lyrics, any melody that can last for 400 years must have something going for it.