CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sunday evening at church: It was the night for singing carols. I couldn't wait. My health is not good, but I was determined to be there no matter what. I love singing Christmas carols.
I have always loved music and was singing recognizable songs at the age of 18 months. I can remember my mother always singing around the house while she was working. She instilled that love of music in me. Music has always touched me deeply, but the Christmas songs are especially dear to me.
We sang Christmas carols for almost an hour. It was wonderful -- except for this: We sang only the first and last verses. The organ swelled with the music. The choir director's voice was in perfect pitch. But we sang only the first and last verses.
We sang "Away in a Manger," and I thought about how my daughter and I would sing it in church and she would sing the regular version while I sang an alternate tune with the same words. It was wonderful! A treasured memory.
I was sitting with my friend Bob. In hushed voices, we lamented that we weren't singing all of the verses. But we sang on. We even sang "There's a Song in the Air" twice, and that is one of my favorite Christmas songs.
But when you are not singing all of the verses of a song, there is something missing. The whole story is not being told.
It is like reading only the first and last chapters of a book. The best parts are in the middle. Who would want to miss out on that? All of the facts and details would be missing. And a lot of the time, you don't even get into the actual story until several chapters in.
Can you imagine Poe's "The Raven" with only the first and last verses? A person wouldn't have any idea of what the poem was even about.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more. ...