A Holiday Tale for Harpists
Songs From My Childhood on the Planet Zworp
by Sylvia Woods
Once upon a time there was a handsome young man named Zed who lived on the planet Zworp. Winter was always his favorite time of year because everywhere he went he heard beautiful Zbinggtime music, celebrating the ancient festival of Zbingg. Zed had grown up on this music, and just hearing a snippet of one of these beautiful carols would bring tears to his eyes and reverence to his heart.
One day, Zed and his family moved to the lovely neighboring planet of Doz. The people of Doz looked much the same as he did, but their customs were quite different. For one thing, they didn't celebrate Zbingg at all!! Winter arrived each year, and along with it came all the celebrations that were traditional on Doz including the most popular of all holidays: Pfloogen. Everywhere Zed went he heard Pfloogentime carols such as "O Pfloogen Tree", "Deck the Pfloogen" and "We Wish You A Merry Pfloogen." He enjoyed the Pfloogentime music because it was so beautiful, but it didn't strike his soul the way Zbinggtime carols always did. To him, it had no deeper meaning than just the melodies.
One winter afternoon after Zed had lived on the planet Doz for many years he came across a crowd of people listening to a street musician playing a Qwarzophone. He paused to listen to the sweet Pfloogen carols but soon started on his way again. A moment later he stopped in his tracks because the musician had begun to play a different tune: Zed's favorite Zbingg carol. Most of the other listeners in the crowd had never heard the melody before, but Zed knew exactly what it was. Tears came to his eyes as he remembered his childhood and his parents and grandparents singing that carol in beautiful 4-part harmony during the traditional Zbingg feast. Zed walked up to the Qwarzophonist at the end of the song and thanked her for playing the music of his soul. The musician smiled back at him. She knew that adding that Zbingg carol to her repertoire had been very wise, and had made the old man very happy. And that, of course, is the main messages behind both the Zbingg and Pfloogen holidays: bringing joy to the life of others.
The moral of this tale is directed to all the harp players on the great planet Earth. When you're playing at parties and gatherings at Christmastime, don't forget the people who celebrate a different holiday at the same time of year. Remember, December isn't just for Christmas!
Add Some Chanukah Songs To Your Christmas Repertoire
Sylvia Woods' book Chanukah Music is a perfect way to add Chanukah songs to your repertoire. With a similar format to her 50 Christmas Carols book, each of the 14 songs has 2 versions, so they are perfect for harp players of all levels.
Many of the songs in the Chanukah Music book relate to the ceremonies centered around the Menorah, a candelabra which holds nine candles. Candles are lit of the eight days of Chanukah by the ninth candle called Shammash. The eight lights of the Menorah represent the jar of oil that continued to burn in the Temple of Jerusalem for eight days when it was thought to last only for one day.
Two of the songs are about the dreydl (or sevivon), a small four-sided top. These songs are particular favorites of Jewish children. Playing Dreydls is a game of luck traditionally played during Chanukah. Inscribed on each side of the dreydl is a Hebrew letter, which directs the player what to do. Nun (N) means the player gets nothing from the pot, Gimmel (G), the player wins the whole pot, Heh (H), the player gets half and Shin (S), the player must add one to the pot. The letters stand for the words "Nes Gadol Haya Sham", which means "A Great Miracle Happened There" recalling the victory of the Macabees in 165 B.C., and the miracle of a one day's supply of oil which lasted for eight.
The "Chanukah Music" book also includes traditional Chanukah "hymns;" songs that celebrate the joys of the holiday; and also "Hatikvah" ("The Hope"), considered the official anthem of Israel.
This article was first printed in "The Harp Lover's News" Volume 1, Issue 1, August 1993, published by the Sylvia Woods Harp Center.