July 02, 2020

Christmas song helps in hard times

Hark now,

Hear the angels sing

A king was born today …

So there we were, riding back from Searsport on a Sunday afternoon just before Christmas.

With my husband at the wheel of our most unsleighlike compact car, I had jabbered all the way down, barely taking a breath before launching into my “on the way home” chatter.

Then – there it was, live and in color on our car radio.

My favorite Christmas song. In the Whole. Wide. World. I absolutely stopped talking, and I wouldn’t kid you about that.

Actually, my favorite Christmas record is a medley of two Christmas songs, my absolute favorites: “Mary’s Boychild,” and “O My Lord.”

I first heard the song some years ago. Someone at WKSQ KISS 94.5-FM liked that song a whole lot. During the holidays, it played all the time, and I listened to it all the time.

I never caught just what the title of it was, nor who sang it. Bu I remembered the words, so full of hope and Christmas spirit and blessings:

Hark now,

Hear the angels sing

A king was born today

And man will live forevermore

Because of Christmas Day.

It was spiritual, yet jaunty, syncopated, and Hispanic in a way that reminded me of Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” Yet I couldn’t name the group that sang it, didn’t know if I’d ever heard these singers before.

The catchy tune changed midsong, the voices dropping lower as they continued the promise of the season:

O my Lord,

You sent

Your son to save us

O my Lord,

Your very self you gave us

O my Lord,

That sin may not enslave us

And love may reign once more.

After several holidays, I didn’t hear the song anymore – until last year, just before Christmas.

I think I held my breath as the song played, not wanting to miss a note. By the time we got home, I was determined to find that song.

Just try asking for “that Christmas song by that group that sounds a little like Jose Feliciano.” It’s not like looking for “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” believe me.

What got me on track was the lyrics I remembered so well, wrapped in quotation marks and offered up to the Internet.

I was thrilled to find the entire lyrics for my favorite two-song song on the Web.

But WHO SANG IT? I had no idea, but some strange guy named Boney M had a Web site on the song. The more I tried to look it up, the more references I found to Boney M.

Ohhhh. THEY sang it.

Boney M was the group, and I’d never have found them, even if I’d looked from Mexico to Jamaica to Spain and back again.

The members of Boney M, whose background is Caribbean, are in England. You know, like the Beatles. England. The “Boney M Christmas Album,” it turns out, was put out in 1981.

Next thing you know, I had ordered a copy of the CD for my very own – and wouldn’t you know it, the songs include Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.”

Plus “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and a delightful medley of “O Holy Night,” “Snow Falls Over the Ground,” and “Hear Ye the Message.”

I play the album most any time now, all year round. It was just the thing to listen to recently when I was undergoing an MRI test.

As I write this, it’s not even Thanksgiving, and I’ve already played the CD numerous times. My dad died last year, and just months ago my husband had one of those awful accidents that have left us grateful for his life, but challenged by the way things are.

When it comes to hope and Christmas spirit and blessings, “Mary’s Boychild/O My Lord” gets me there every time.

Thanks, Boney M.

Roxanne Moore Saucier is the Family Ties columnist for the Bangor Daily News and editor of The Weekly. She can be reached at 990-8139 or familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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