‘Tis the season to be jolly, to be filled with tidings of comfort and joy, right? Well, not everybody feels it, and it’s an especially hard season for people who are sad and lonely, or both. My Christmas Song of the Day for December 18, though brand-new, already has spoken eloquently to those who feel something besides happiness and cheer this time of the year.
Amy Grant (born 1960) released yet another Christmas album in 2016, Tennessee Christmas. Garnering much attention was that some of the new songs on the album look at the season from a different point of view than we’re used to hearing from her. Grant’s originals on past albums have been based to some degree on personal experience. One of the songs on the new album is based more on the experience of some of her fans.
When the new album was released, it became the source of controversy: The LifeWay chain of Christian bookstores, a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, chose not to carry Grant’s Tennessee Christmas because it “wasn’t Christian enough.”
One song in particular that caused controversy is “Melancholy Christmas.” In it, Grant imagines herself as a lonely person whose only contact with the outside world is through social media, if that. And then she tries to reach out: “You don’t need presents … We can sing carols … If you feel lonely, I feel it, too.”
Grant’s manager, Jennifer Cooke, in an article in the Washington Post, wrote:
“… one of Grant’s longtime fans started a thread on her Facebook fan page saying how listening to ‘Melancholy Christmas’ makes her cry because, for the past few Christmases, she has sat alone in her wheelchair all day on Christmas.
“Several other fans opened up and said the same was true of their lives. Some openly grieved about dysfunctional family situations, health troubles that leave them isolated, loss of loved ones and the isolation of having no one who cares enough to call. They shared each others’ pain and offered hope and encouragement to each other, all because of a song that never mentions Jesus.
“And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Aren’t we supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Does the name Jesus need to be said for his love to be shown or his message to be lived and shared?”
Here’s “Melancholy Christmas,” my Christmas Song of the Day for December 18.