15
Dec
11

My Favorite Christmas Songs…The Friends Version Vol. XV

Today’s song will be familiar to everyone, but do you know the story behind the song? My good buddy, Brent Stark, told me that this was his favorite song. Today’s song of the day is “Christmas in Sarajevo”. When he told me this, I knew the song immediately, and admittedly, like the song too. But as I began to research the song, I had no idea of the meaningful story behind it.

Paul O’Neill, one of the composers of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra explained the story behind the song in an interview in magazine,  Christianity Today:

“… We heard about this cello player born in Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city in complete ruins.

I think what most broke this man’s heart was that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time, Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and Beethoven as the city was bombed.

He came every night and began playing Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of humanity was still alive in that place.

The song basically wrapped itself around him. We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find, like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells” (which is from Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra represents one side, the rock band the other, and single cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.”

Wow! What a great story! Did you know about this story? Now the song has much more meaning for me, as I hope it does for you.

Thanks, Brent for sharing this song!

 

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