Of A Christmas Carol, G.K. Chesterton wrote warmly: "The story sings from end to end like a happy man going home; and, like a happy and good man, when it cannot sing, it yells.*" Beyond even its own inherent music, the tale contains a highly satisfying depiction of happy and good men singing. Here, as observed by Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, it follows:
And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial-place of giants; and water spread itself wheresoever it listed; or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner; and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of firey red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night."What place is this?" asked Scrooge.
"A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth," returned the Spirit. "But they know me. See!"
A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and stone, they found a cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and woman, with their children, and their children's children, and another generation beyond that, all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a Christmas song; it had been a very old song when he was a boy; and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. So sure, as they raised their voices, the old man got quite blithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank again.
The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and passing on above the moor, sped whither? Not to sea? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them; and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth.
Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base, and storm-birds--born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of the water--rose and fell about it, like they waves they skimmed.
But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their horny hads over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and one of them--the elder too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be--struck up a sturdy song that was like a gale in itself.
*Charles Dickens, The Last of the Great Men