The following is from the Dec. 17, 2007, edition of USA Today. SMU Professor Michael Hawn, director of sacred music in Perkins School of Theology, provided expertise for this story.

Caroling or silent nights?
A holiday tradition vanishes

By Maria Puente

Most everybody knows what Christmas caroling is, but who does it anymore?

Students singing carols recently at SMU's 30th annual Celebration of Lights .

Sure, there's the new twist: virtual caroling. A Radio Shack ad shows how it's done: Little old lady opens her door to find video iPod. Out comes tinny sounds and tiny pictures of children singing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. Next door the kids are waving from a window.

It's an appealing notion: Spread cheer without leaving the warmth (and the giant-screen TV) of your own home. Must be why YouTube boasts more than 300 caroling videos.

But has it come to this? Except for pockets of passion, traditional, in-person neighborhood caroling is practiced by a shrinking fraction of the population. . .

It's not too late to revive Christmas caroling, says Michael Hawn, professor of church music at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"It will take imagination and a willingness to break the ice," he says, "Singing is an act that naturally enhances a sense of community, whether it's Take Me Out to the Ball Game, the national anthem or Christmas carols."

Read the full story.

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