Winchester — The words to “Welcome Christmas” came to John Hudson upon a midnight clear.
It was early December 2007, so Christmas already was in the air. Hudson of Berryville woke up in the middle of the night, wrote all six verses and went right back to sleep.
“Days later, when I looked at it to see if anything needed to be fixed, I changed one word,” said Hudson, 55, who is a senior vice president and marketing director for the Bank of Clarke County.
Five years later, the song that came to Hudson out of the blue has been published by the General Board of Discipleship, which provides resources to United Methodist churches worldwide.
The song was accepted in August and is now featured on the organization’s website, where it can be viewed by anyone, he said. Churches worldwide go to the site to look for new songs to use, and though he won’t always know it, he hopes the hymn finds its way into many of them.
“I would love to think that this carol would be downloaded and used all over the world for Christmas worship,” Hudson said.
And, if and when the Methodist Church revises its hymnal, hopefully the Christmas song will be considered for that as well, he said.
The carol is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with verses such as “Welcome Christmas, come this way, Christ our Lord was born this day. Harken back to manger stay, Welcome Christmas, come this way.”
Other verses talk of singing carols, angels singing, peace on Earth, and having good cheer.
The simple verses and melody make it “very singable,” which is good for choirs, Hudson said.
That first Christmas, he used what he had written as a poem he shared with friends and family. In fall 2008, he put the verses to music.
The song ended up in the hands of his pastor, the Rev. William K. Dawson, of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church in Berryville,and the church’s minister of music, Mildred Keating. They chose to use it as a Christmas hymn at the church that year, and it has been sung each year since.
Dawson said he liked that the song announces “the full Christmas message that Christ has come into the world.”
“We found it was a wonderful melody that was easy to sing and had a very uplifting message for the Christmas season,” he said.
Hudson is a gifted musician, so it wasn’t a surprise that the song was chosen by the General Board of Discipleship, Dawson said.
It was surreal to hear his song sung by his church choir for the first time in 2008, Hudson said, especially since he has been attending there since 1974.
So when Hudson submitted the song in July to the General Board of Discipleship, and, five weeks later, received an email saying it had been chosen, he was dumbfounded. It was the first song he has had published since he wrote a jingle for the Bank of Clarke County in 1997.
Music has always been part of Hudson’s life. He started singing solos in his church as a child. Keating taught him piano and voice from ages 8 to 18 when he was the choir director.
Hudson joined Duncan Memorial’s adult choir in 1974. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at Longwood College, graduating in 1980. From 1980 until about 1987, he pursued a recording career and copyrighted 13 original songs.
During that time, he also was the organist and choir director at Boyce Baptist Church.
In 1983, he started at the bank, where he worked his way up from security guard to drive-through teller to collections officer to loan officer to marketing director and senior vice president.
The push for the recording career stopped when he got married July 11, 1987, to his wife, Kathy. The couple later had two sons. Hudson also earned a master’s degree from Shenandoah University in 1991.
Even when music wasn’t his main focus, it was always present in his life, Hudson said. He participates with the Piedmont Singers in overseas trips, is the house soloist for the Clarke Community Band, and he is in a Dixieland band called Dixie Rhythm.
He also is working on another hymn, which he wants to tie in with the United Methodist’s denominational promise, “Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors.”
A copy of the full song and music is available at http://bit.ly/Ujn1It.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com.