...tis the season to be joll(e)y ...

Dear Friends,

A story is told about a highly regarded actor who was performing a one man show in one of the grand theaters of New York City. The vast audience sat spellbound through his inspiring performance. Following his final dramatic reading, the spectators stood, applauded wildly and demanded an encore.

Responding to their request, the man asked for a Bible. Purposefully, he turned to the 23 chapter of Psalms and began to read . . . “"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want . . .”"

With expressive voice and great presence the handsome man delivered one of the most familiar and beloved passages of scripture every written.

Upon completion the audience sprang to their feet and sustained an enthusiastic ovation that went on and on. What an encore!

Finally, as he was able to quiet them he made an unexpected announcement: “"I would now like to introduce to you my father who is here with me this evening.”"

He motioned to the first row in the audience and continued, “"Unbeknownst to him I would ask him to come up here and recite this same passage that I have just read for you."”

A buzz came up from the audience. What was this? they wondered? and speculated on what they were about to witness.

With modest reluctance a striking, white-haired man stood and made his way to center stage where he was handed the Bible by his smiling son.

The man held his son’s admiring gaze for a moment as he took the book and drew it tightly to his chest. He closed his eyes and began to recite the identical verse from vivid memory: “"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want . . .”"

At the conclusion of his recital there was no applause, no fanfare or cheering. The audience sat stunned and silent. In fact, the only sounds that could be heard were those of people weeping.

After a few minutes the actor retook the stage and held his father’s arm as he offered this explanation:

“"I wanted you to experience the difference between someone who knows well the material and someone who knows well . . . the Shepherd.”"

With this illustration in mind . . . there are many recordings of this wonderful Christmas song by some of the great artists of all time. Each performer is well versed in the music and lyrics. However, a few demonstrate in their passion and performance that they not only know the music and lyrics, but they know the shepherd.

Thank you David, my inspiring friend!

This video is my favorite version of my favorite Christmas hymn: “"O Holy Night".” It is now my cherished gift to you.

Merry Christmas with love,

J. M.

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