Every month I get a notice from my friend and yours, Joseph Martin, that it’s time for a new blog post (he’s nothing if he’s not persistent). This month, as in the past, the request came in an email addressed to a long list of contributors to this fine online establishment. Here’s what it said next to my name:
Stephen Bock: ?
There’s lots of ways to read that question mark. It could mean that they don’t know what I’m going to write (as if I do!). It could mean that they don’t know if I’m going to write a post this month at all (as if I do!). It could mean that they don’t even know who I am (as if I do!). All are fair interpretations of a small piece of punctuation that follows my name.
Shakespeare famously asked (through his equally famous character, Juliet), “What’s in a name?” As we near the Christmas season, we’ll start to hear more and more “What’s in the box?” However, I’m reminded of a song from my father’s musical, Super Gift From Heaven. The story in this show is that the toys in the toyshop have come to life over night, and they are trying to figure out what Christmas is all about. They all want to be gifts, but they have no idea what that really means. The penultimate song asks the million dollar question: What Is A Gift?
What is a gift? What is a gift?
Should it be wrapped in bright, shiny ribbon?
Should be big?
Or can it be small?
So go the struggles of a toy doll trying to come to grips with the meaning of its life.
For those of us who believe in the birth of Jesus as the coming of the Messiah, we know that the real gift was the baby born on that cold Bethlehem night. For us, the fulcrum of history shifted that night. God, in His infinite wisdom, sent His only son to live among us and reconnect a fallen creation to its Creator. Later in His life, Jesus would instruct His disciples, “No one can have greater love than to give his life for his friends.” Then, to prove the point to the extreme, He went to the cross and died so that all of us could be saved.
But, it all started back in that manger in Bethlehem. That’s where it all began. That was the night that love was born.
Recently, I had the chance to write a lyric for a friend. She was going to perform at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and she needed a new song to premier. In a wholly-unexpected turn for both of us, the lyric came to me in a rush. (I even managed to find a pretty decent melody to use.) I sent it to her; she loved it; and it was premiered at the Ryman a few weeks later. (For those who are interested, here’s a link to that performance – Jessica at the Ryman.
Shortly after that performance, I asked my friend, Jonathan Rea, to do a choral setting of the song. I could not be happier with the outcome. I hope you agree. So, without any further nonsense from me, here’s the SATB setting of The Night That Love Was Born.