Every carol has a history, even the simple ones.
At her concert on Wednesday, Nashville singer Jennie Williamson hopes that her audience will learn some of that history. But more importantly, she wants to offer a calm spot during the sometimes frantic holiday season.
"Just to provide a moment of peace and a stillness in all the crazy busy Christmas time," she said.
"We do anything from traditional carols, like 'O Holy Night' and 'Silent Night,' to some unique Christmas carols people may not be familiar with," Williamson explained.
One, called the "Rocking Carol," comes from the 1500s, she said.
"It kind of has a play on words of the rocking, it says we will rock you, talking about the infant Jesus.
"The Peace and Joy of Christmas"
Who: AriSon Records artist Jennie Williamson
What: Christmas concert
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: St. Paul Lutheran Church, 400 S. 13th St.
Cost: Freewill offering will be accepted.
"We like to turn it into, he who came as an infant came to hold us in our time of need."
Jennie Williamson's husband Brian Williamson, president of AriSon Records, Nashville, Tenn., grew up in Fort Dodge and attended St. Paul Lutheran Church. The couple has been returning to his hometown for eight years now for the Christmas concert.
Healing from grief is a big theme of the concert, Brian Williamson said.
"One reason we started doing this seven years ago was, we realized what a difficult time of year Christmas is for some people," he said.
Brian Williamson's first wife died in a car accident in 1998, he said, and the St. Paul church was there to help through that difficult time.
"When we started doing these Christmas concerts we realized quickly it wasn't just about coming in and celebrating Christmas, it was giving people an opportunity to find peace in the stressful season, and a safe place to come to.
"Part of what we do in the concert is we talk and sing about that, of giving them chance to shed a few tears if they want, remembering their loved ones."
The couple's CD, the "First Christmas after Grief," features Christmas carols and devotions meant to bring comfort.
Jennie Williamson said she learned a lot of music history in a madrigal group in college, and she likes to share that history.
"We always think of Christmas carols as coming out of a joyful time. You know, 'Joy to the World,'" she said. "But then you get something like 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and it was during the time of war.
"The sound of the Christmas bells going off was a moment of peace that came to the writer. His son had been wounded, and he was trying to figure out where is the peace in all of this."
Many of these historical songs are on her CD, "Celebrating Carols." Jennie Williamson will also sing songs from her newest album, "A Merry Singing Christmas." This features more upbeat favorites like "White Christmas," "Jingle Bells" and "Sleigh Ride," she said. These are available on the couple's website, www.AriSonRecords.com.
Even when she comes back to a fun song like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Jennie Williamson can teach the audience something.
"Actually the story of Rudolph is incredible," she said. "The writer had lost his wife. In order to get his daughter to be thinking positive things, and he wanted to comfort her, he kept telling this silly story."
He read the story at a company party, the boss liked it enough to publish it, and the rest went down in history.
"We're in the Christian music business, so we always try to pull in the true light of Christmas," Jennie Williamson said. "With Rudolph, we say in this world of dark, we are able to shine our light, and to lead the way, and be a good example."