I've just finished re-cleaning these two records. To me, they are so representative of Christmas. I try to take them out and play them on Christmas Eve itself, just like I'm doing so today. Although I am not a Christian, I share in the values of the Christmas spirit. Peace and goodwill to all mankind. And sharing this spirit with my fellow citizens of the world does not make me any less a Buddhist because at the heart of Buddhism is compassion towards all beings.
I have been listening to A Festival of Lessons and Carols from the King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, since the early Eighties. Come Christmas Day, I would tune into the BBC on my shortwave radio just as they would start broadcasting the recorded service from the King's College Chapel. It was almost like a ritual then. And then I got my hands onto a cassette from the British Council and made a tape copy of it. About seven or eight years ago, I finally managed to get my hands on this vinyl copy and I've been listening to this version ever since.
Side One: Processional Hymn - Once In Royal David's City, The Bidding Prayer, Invitatory, First Lesson - Genesis III, Carol - Adam Lay Ybounden, Second Lesson - Isaiah IX, Carol - I Saw Three Ships, Third Lesson - St Luke I, Carol - Gabriel's Message, Carol - God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
Side Two: Carol - Sussex Carol, Fourth Lesson - St Matthew I, Carol - In Dulci Jubilo, Fifth Lesson - St Luke II, Carol - Away In A Manger, Hymn - While Shepherds Watched, Sixth Lesson - St Matthew II, Hymn - O Come All Ye Faithful, Seventh Lesson - St John I, Hymn - Hark The Herald Angels Sing
And this was the second album that I normally listen to after the first record. This album was released in 1984 but remarkably until today, the message is still as fresh as ever. Who would have thought that 28 years have passed by since its release?
Side One: Do They Know It's Christmas (Trevor Horn remix)
Side Two: Do They Know It's Christmas (Standard mix), Feed The World
Anyone who is less than 30 years old today will probably not know of this album's significance but this was the album that pricked the world's conscience over the famine in Ethiopia. Months later on 13 July 1985, Bob Geldof and his musician friends organised a worldwide concert to raise funds for famine relief. The concert raised about STG150 million at the last count. Despite this humanitarian aid, famine is still ravaging East Africa. That is the magnitude of the problem. It's sad. There's no permanent solution. There are still people dying from hunger caused by environmental change and of course, conflict on the battlefields.
If you are too young to know what Band Aid stood for, here is a video from YouTube. Never mind the personalities, just watch the video and understand the message of helping others who are less fortunate than ourselves. There are other versions, including the original, that you may wish to watch later, but take a look at this first. Merry Christmas, I say to you.