Be “Born Again” like Ebenezer Scrooge

Every Christmas Eve my brother-in-law and I have a light-hearted argument about which movie version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the best. He likes the 1951 version with Alastair Sim and I like the 1970 version with Albert Finney called Scrooge. In the past I actually only ever saw parts of the Alastair Sim version so, to be fair, this year I watched the entire movie. So now I can conclude, without any reservation, that the best version of A Christmas Carol is…drumroll please…the Albert Finney version!

The main reason that this version is better is because it’s a musical. Although the Alastair Sim version is truer to the actual Dickens’s story, Sim does a great job and the effects are good for its time, the Dickens’ story is so powerful that music is ideal to capture and convey the transcendent qualities that are being displayed. Additionally Albert Finney is thoroughly convincing, it’s well cast, the settings and the effect are excellent. But it’s the music that elevates this version and two songs in particular stand out. The first occurs at the most climatic scene when Scrooge ends his time with the third ghost and begins his transformation. The other is when he meets the ghost of Christmas present.

Begin Again Lyrics

Here are the lyrics to the song “Begin Again” at the start of Scrooge’s transformation in which he’s declaring that he will change and starts with saying, “I’m alive! I’m alive! I’ve got a chance to change and I will not be the man I was.” Then the song starts:

I’ll begin again, I will build my life,
I will live to know that I’ve fulfilled my life.
I’ll begin today, throw away the past,
and the future I build will be something that will last.

I will take the time I have left to live,
and I’ll give it all that I have left to give.
I will live my days for my fellow men,
and I’ll live in praise of that moment when
I was able to begin again.

I will start a-new, I will make amends,
and I’ll make quite certain that the story ends
on a note of hope, on a strong amen,
and I’ll thank the world and remember when
I was able to begin again.

Who Needs to Begin Again?

Presumably you’re not as bad as Ebenezer Scrooge so do you need to make amends and begin again? Well yes but for most of us the issues we need to work on are less dramatic. You’re not deeply and continually angry, bitter, greedy and self-centered as Scrooge but do you occasionally show traces of these? Can you strive toward never being angry when your spouse or child does something you don’t like? Can you completely let go of any grudges or resentments you’re holding? Can you not allow the pervasive force of materialism to influence what and why you buy? Can you consider the well being of others before yourself? In the last paragraph of the story Dickens writes, “He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards…”. The Total Abstinence Principle is not avoiding alcohol or any other “vice” but to totally abstain from being bitter, angry, dour, greedy, self-centered, etc. This should be what we strive for even if it seems impossible.

Moreover to “begin again” we must not just avoid these negative qualities but we should identify with the highest part of ourselves, the spirit within us, and express goodwill, joy, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, wisdom and peace. To recognize, contemplate and integrate your divinity with your humanity is to be born again. To identify with the soul and realize that you are a soul who has a body is to transcend ordinary life. When filled with joy, the hallmark of the soul, you’ll figuratively be as Scrooge after his ghostly visits when he says “I am a light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

Next time – the second great song in Scrooge, the musical version of A Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge and we learn to “Like Life”!

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