Christmas Song nr. 11: Love Came Down at Christmas by Jars of Clay

For the second time on this list we find Christina Rosetti, British poet who lived between 1830-1894. More famous for writing In the Bleak Midwinter she published in 1885 without a title, but later named Christmastide. Like her more famous verse it encompasses the divinity of the season, but simpler than that one. It is its simplistic proclamation of what is at the heart of the holiday season; Love.

The American rock band Jars of Clay, formed in 1993, included it on their 2007 album of Christmas songs. The poem has been set to music by several composers, but Jars of Clay chose to use a modern version of the Irish traditional Garton, which gives it a nice, contemporary feel. One would be hard pressed to hear that it was from the 19th century without knowing the tune first.

The song focuses on the birth of Christ and what that in fact symbolizes for man overall. The love that God shared with his creation is also to be shared throughout that creation as well and in the end Rosetti’s poem proclaims the center piece of the Christian faith and that is love for all.

The simple, yet deep meaning of Rosetti’s words and Jars of Clay’s quiet, albeit contemporary interpretation of it makes the tune relevant and it is also why it’s number 11 on the Christmas List of Songs.

-Andrew Tobias


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