Hark! There, you thought I was going to start a Christmas carol right away, didn't you? Some words don't get out much until it's Christmastime, and "hark" is one of the big ones. But while we don't harken unto much any more, "listen" just doesn't fit when it comes to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
In the Midwestern states, it's hard to hear any difference between "herald" and the name "Harold." I can remember not understanding the difference and thinking Harold was this singing angel's name. For company, he'd have Gloria -- the angel in my family's nativity scene held a banner reading GLORIA, so at an early age, I thought that was her name tag.
Angels figure in "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," too, especially in the late verse when
"Still through the cloven skies they come,
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats
o'er all the weary world."
No wonder that verse catches my attention this week -- "cloven" (having been cleaved open), "unfurled" (like an open umbrella), and "o'er" finally getting some use outside the ramparts of the national anthem. Three words worth defending in one verse!
Whatever you're singing in the coming days, enjoy the precious words. Merry Christmas to all, and to all goodbye for a few days of celebrating. (I'll defend "celebrating" vs. "partying," too.)
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Filed under: Words Worth Defending