Oh Holy Night – Part 2

Oh Holy Night - A story about a very special Christmas CarolWhen I was sixteen, I was finally allowed to spend Christmas Eve the way I had always wanted to.  With my parents.  You see, every year on Christmas Eve, I stayed home with a babysitter while my parents were out doing something that I will always be proud of. 

For thirty years, long before I was born and long after I had moved away, my parents were part of a very unique choir – a choir that sang only one night a year.  It was called the Frank Farmer Octet and it consisted of local Denver soloists who gave up their Christmas Eve each year to carol in the halls of all the Denver hospitals. 

Hospitals don’t like to keep people there over the holidays, and only the very sick are there on Christmas Eve.  Year after year, my parents were part of a beautiful and beloved Denver tradition that brought comfort to hundreds of the sick and dying and their families.   I begged my parents to let me become one of those singers.  Finally, at sixteen, they allowed me to become an alto in the group.  And that night I realized why they had wanted me to wait so long before joining them.  This was not a Christmas party.  It was a Christmas mission and you never knew from year to year how it would end. 

That year, we donned our choir robes and turned on the flickering electric votive candles and followed my father up one hall and down the other, driving in the snow across town from one hospital to the next, until we found ourselves at the last one.  One that the snow almost prevented us from reaching.  As we walked down the second floor, a nurse ran out to us from the ICU and called us in.  She gathered us around the bed of a man who was obviously in his last hours.  His wife leaned over and whispered something to him.  With great effort, he gave her a slight nod.  “Do you know Oh, Holy Night?  It’s his favorite” she said.  My father turned to my mother and gave her a look that said “can you do this?”  She nodded and began to sing in her beautiful, clear soprano with the rest of us humming harmony underneath. 

I’ll always remember how the tempo she picked was somehow in time with the hollow beats of the heart machine.  Beep.  Beep.  Oh, Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….beep. Beep.  The longer she sang, the more the tears ran down the man’s face and the harder his wife squeezed his hand as one after another of us just couldn’t sing anymore. But mother kept going.  Fall on your knees.  Beep  Beep. Oh hear the angel voices.  Beeeeeeeeeeep.  And he gasped and he was gone.  And through her tears, his wife smiled at my mother.  And my mother nodded and kept singing.  Oh, night divine!  Oh, night!  Holy night.  And it was.  A holy, holy night.   May the miracle of God’s love and his free gift of eternal life and peace be yours this year and always.  Merry Christmas.