December 25, 2020

Celtic Christmas Carols

 Merry Christmas, friends!

I think we can unanimously agree that the greatest gift we could receive this year, and in the next, is the continued health and safety of our family and loved ones. ♥️

A particular gift that this Christmas season of 2020 has blessed me with is the new friendships and musical collaborations formed over a shared love and appreciation for Celtic music. Celtic music has always been near and dear to my heart. I grew up listening to the classics like "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and the well-known tearjerker, "Danny Boy"; the latter song I eventually sang with my high school chamber choir in Washington DC and Nashville.

I even took Irish step dancing lessons back in elementary with my sisters. It was a lot of fun, but quite exhausting (practically all you do is jump and bounce around, ya know?), so I convinced my mom to let us quit. Later on, when our parents took us to a couple of Riverdance shows, I quickly regretted that decision... but oh well! Ya live and ya learn. 😄

Over the summer, I discovered that one of the members in my church's worship team plays the bodhran, so I was immediately inspired to start a local Celtic band. We ended up with a double bassist, bagpiper, bodhran player and vocalist/guitarist (aka moi), and I was so excited to start rehearsing Celtic Christmas carols!

December 5 was our big day because we had two gigs lined up. At 10 am, we performed for Green Pond Bible Chapel's Ladies Christmas Celebration. 

Afterward, we headed to the Jefferson Township Museum for our outdoor performance. It turned out to be very chilly and rainy, but we joked that it was classic Celtic weather to perform in. 

The last song in our set list, "An Irish Christmas Blessing" by the Gettys, I also performed for my church's Christmas Eve service. I convinced my 13-year-old friend, Ryan Peters (I've known him and his family ever since he was a baby) to contribute his falsetto tenor voice to our trio performance of "Do You Hear What I Hear."

McKenna, Ryan and I

My sister, McKenna and I sang a duet of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" just like we did at last year's Christmas Eve service. I suppose it's a new tradition. Our voices blend so well together that it's only natural we include the song in our Christmas set list each year. Click here to watch our Christmas Eve livestream performance.

As I sit and reflect during this Christmas day, I'm overwhelmingly grateful for all the musical opportunities God has given me to praise and glorify His name. Along with my music, He also blessed my church's first drive-through Nativity. I say "blessed" because sooo many people showed up (ironically, the people at my church wanted to start the drive-through Nativity last year, but it didn't work out - God obviously knew what would be in store this year with social distancing protocol and masks, so He wanted us to start the drive-through this year)! 

Over 300 cars pulled up to our church as we stood in the freezing cold at our different Nativity stations, wearing costumes over our winter coats and slowly freezing in service to the Lord. 😅 Possibly, up to 1,200 people witnessed our reenactment of the Christmas story which is such a blessing!

I believe the ultimate takeaway from Christmas is how Jesus, our Emmanuel, was born to live a perfect life and die a perfect sacrifice, for the glory of God and for the redemption of His people. It's incredibly humbling how the Son of God willingly suffered persecution and death on a cross to restore us to the Father, taking on our sin and granting us salvation through faith in His perfect sacrifice and redeeming victory over death. 

Despite the harmful effects of our sin, including COVID, the devil doesn't have the last word. He couldn't stop our Messiah from being born, living a perfect life and defeating death in order to redeem the brokenness of the world. The story of our Savior is the greatest ever told because it is the ultimate story of victory and of love. (But the story isn't over yet, He will be coming back soon)!

During this Christmas season, I encourage you all to reflect and meditate on this passage from Philippians 2:

"have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father."

May God bless you and your family this Christmas day and into the new year!

Warmly, Madison Taylor


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