The ABC creates a new Christmas carol – that leaves out Jesus

“Thousands join voices in virtual choir to premiere new Australian Christmas carol,” the ABC headline reads. One important voice has been left out though: Jesus.

“Christmas With You” by Deborah Cheetham AO, a Yorta Yorta soprano and composer, focusses on the missing connections of 2020 rather than our saviour. Or as the ABC story puts it, “Christmas With You, Cheetham’s new carol, gives voice to what Christmas means in 2020, lifting our spirits as we approach the end of the year and capturing the festive mood of comfort and joy as well as paying tribute to our shared experiences.”

Sadly for the ABC, Christmas does not mean Jesus.

There are many non-Jesus Christmas songs, from Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer to the song we are not meant to hear Wham’s Last Christmas. So perhaps this article could come across as churlish. Why complain about another song?

A carol is defined as “a religious folk song or popular hymn, particularly one associated with Christmas.”

A song that references Christmas is just part of popular culture. But this one, as the ABC’s story says, is about establishing the meaning of Christmas. Comfort and joy – but outside of Christ, which makes this writer feel wistful or just a little sad.

Here’s the lyrics:

Can you find your way home Christmas night?
There is a star to guide you
It shines with the light
I hold in my heart
Can you find your way home Christmas night?

Can you find your way home Christmas Day?
There’s so much more I want to tell you
so much more to say
O can you find your way home Christmas Day?

Can you find your way home Christmas Day?
We’ve been apart for so long now
This year has come and gone somehow and
and only the summer days
are here bringing Christmas

Can you find your way home Christmas eve?
I had thought you would leave
perhaps a star can guide you home this year
light the way and draw you near (near to me)
How I wish you were here
for Christmas, Christmas eve

I need no gift beneath the Christmas tree this year
Christmas with you is all I truely need my dear

“I love Christmas,” writes Cheetham.

“I love its traditions. I’ve known great happiness at Christmas time. I have also known deep loneliness. I have celebrated Christmas from deep within a faith and also as an outsider.”

She recalls, “Christmas for me is a time full of treasured memories. Music is central, of course. Carols from near and far. The Wheeler and James Australian Christmas carols are among my favourites.”

The North Wind is tossing the leaves
The Red Dust is over the town
The sparrows are under the eaves
And the grass in the paddock is brown

“Equally, O Come All Ye Faithful, when the organist knows what they are doing, will stir emotion and bring tears to my eyes. Singing O, Holy Night with the Grand Organ accompanying in the Sydney Town Hall; it doesn’t get much more hardcore Christmas than that.”

We agree. We don’t want to be rude or ungrateful, but we’d have loved a hardcore carol.

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