My theory is that if commercial entities would just play great renditions of the carols instead of generic, Muzak-y stuff, folks wouldn't complain so much. Of course, piping Julie Andrews and Andre Previn or anything from the great "Winter Solstice" artists throughout the stores would probably make people stop and listen, then wander off in haze without buying anything. As it is, everyone just wants to hurry up, buy, and get the hell out before the music drives 'em crazy.
I can't think of one carol I absolutely hate - it's all in the arrangement, artist, and accompaniment - but I do have favorite lyrics that touch my soul whenever I hear or sing them. Here are some of the most beautiful to me:
"In the Bleak Midwinter," words by Christina Rosseti/music Gustav Holst (so right away, you know it's gonna be downright good):
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow.
The wonderous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him,
Still the dear Christ enters in.
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes,
The glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.
And cease your strife
And hear the angels sing!
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
And if you want a treat, stop by Pratie Place and listen to Jane's seasonal music offerings - she's giving us the gift of a song a day, starting with "In the Bleak Midwinter." The antithesis of Muzak - beeee-yooo-tiful. Today's song is "The Holly Bears a Berry." Thanks, Jane!