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Hark Hear the Bells

I'm living in a country where they play bells at midnight on Christmas Eve.

I'm not sure if they do that back in Canada. I've never lived close enough to a church, and I can't recall the only midnight service I've been to. It was beautiful, and moving, and at the same time very isolating.

It's odd, celebrating the holidays someplace else. Add to it that I'm not Christian, but I did go to Church last night, and everything was a bit off-kilter for me to begin with. But much to my shock, they don't sing the same carols over here.

No, that's not right. They do sing them, but differently.

They translate the Germam of Silent Night to Still the Night, and the words have the same meaning to them, but are different. I can see how the translations are similar, but it was so strange.

Then there was singing Oh Little Town of Bethleham, my Christmas favorite since I learned to play it on the piano as a wee lass. The parts of the song that mean so much to me are completely different here: the tune was something I had never heard before, and I found it impossible to sing along to.

Fall On Your KneesOther songs were different, too. One was a "Scottish Paraphrase", again the same music, but words that had changed enough to confuse. I think that was our While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night, or here: While Humble Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

Oh, and they spell Noel: Nowell.

Only two songs were exactly as I recalled them: Oh come, all Ye Faithful, and Joy To the World.

The service, though, was lovely, and being in a candlelit church built in the 1400s was a very powerful experience for me. The organ at the front of the church was massive: it took up the entire front of it, with pipes at least 7' high. The choir was beautiful, in the loft above our heads. Everything was lovely.

Just... different.

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