This was written around 1988 or so and became a staple of our concerts for those next few years. I guess U2 was probably an influence on this and on "Step Down" and a few others written at this time.
There are two sources of inspiration for the lyrics. For one thing, I read the book, "City of Joy". This was a true story about the mission of a French priest and some others to a poor neighborhood of Mother Teresa's Calcutta that was called by that name, City of Joy. (I'm told the movie of this name has little to do with the book and is a bit disappointing.) There is a climactic scene in the main square at Christmas Eve when the priest says Mass with the whole community, including the Hindus and Muslims. As he lifted up the Host during the Consecration, everyone feels this deep emotion at the idea that God would stoop so low to be with the poor in this intimate way.
It was a beautiful, mystical moment that reminded me of another similar incident involving St. Francis of Assisi. He had confronted the Sultan of Egypt and gained permission for him and his brothers to go everywhere in the promised land. So, it is that he went to the cave in Bethlehem where the Lord was born. When he returned to Italy, he wished so much that he could help the people experience what it was like there. On December 24, 1222 in Greccio, he had a life-sized replica of the stable built outside against a cave for the Midnight Mass. He was the deacon for the Mass, and the sermon fell to him. He led the people in imagination to the wonderful scene of that first Christmas. He imagined picking up the Child and adoring Him, when suddenly many people in the crowd could see the Child. Word of this spread like wildfire throughout Europe and the custom of the creche-scene was born, eventually miniaturized for homes.
In the words of the song I was trying to express the wonder, worship and joy of these two moments. Denise does such a wonderful job singing, Dave and Greg and Tony drive the thing wonderfully yet also give it some beauty. We had done a great multi-track version when we were doing the CD entitled "City of Joy" but the machine used to record that has a lot of problems according to Jim Babish and retrieving it may just be too hard. [NOTE: This multi-track version was salvaged from a cassette later and is mentioned in a later blog entry here. What I came to realize is that this live version is much better than the multi-track one which was going to be the title track of an album. That never happened.] So, it's great that we have this live version from that same time that reminds us what it was like.
Hope you like it.