December 12, 2013

Christmas Music!

Now that we’ve explored Christmas/Holiday movies, let’s talk about music! I have deep and abiding memories of certain Christmas carols, mainly from a caroling party that my family attended for more than 50 years. We would practice at our friends’ house and then pile into cars and drive into the city and go caroling down a tiny city street where other friends had lived. (This is totally NOT us!)image

The first carol, if you call it that, that I remember consciously learning was O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Today, it’s still my favourite carol, and I love almost any and every version of it. I just heard a great version by the punk band, Bad Religion!

Here’s a slightly calmer version.

Sometimes, it’s the words that just get to me. The song, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, has such evocative words that I can barely sing them.

1. O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

2. For Christ is born of Mary; And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together Proclaim the holy birth;
And praises sing to God the King, And peace to men on earth.

3. How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, The dear Christ enters in.

I love the song, Once In Royal David’s City, mainly because of the story behind the singing of it during the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols at King’s College, Cambridge. imageThe song starts with a soloist singing the first verse. So he doesn’t get nervous, all of the boys practice singing it, and literally, at the last second, before the concert goes out across the world, live to millions, one child is tapped on the shoulder and he’s the soloist. It gives me chills.

I could go on and on, I really like Christmas music, but now it’s your turn! What’s your favourite?


  1. A local radio station plays Christmas music all day long. Yes I have heard Jingle bell rock several times but today I heard for the first time, James Taylor sing Deck the Halls and it had a very madrigal vibe, very nice. The Beatles recorded messages to their fan club for the holidays and years ago a local radio station played these recordings and I will always remember the way Good king Whenceslaus was sung knid of a jazzy beat ha! always remember that fondly.

  2. My hands down fave is Carol of the Bells, either instrumental or vocal. Best Christmas album is Robert Goulet's, of all people, called This Christmas I Spend with You, recorded in mid-60s and well worth the search. His voice is rich and warm and he does a great mixture of secular and religious tunes.

    Happy holidays to all!

  3. It is so hard to pick just one carol...Christmas music has been such a part of my life, it is my favorite part of the Christmas season. A piece that I look forward to hearing every year is I Wonder as I Wander. The music and words bring tears to my eyes. It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas gets me into the shopping and decorating mood. Great post as always.
    Becky in South Georgia

  4. My favorite is Donny Hathaway's This Christmas. It gets me in the Christmas spirit each time I hear it :-)

  5. Jingle Bells might be a little bit of a cliche but it's one that everyone in my house can actually sing!

  6. "I 'll be home for Christmas" my dad use to sing it all day long + in the car around Christmas(don't know why he was always home) love that song because of him.

  7. Rudolph the reindeer makes me smile and sing along!

  8. Boys choirs/childrens choirs are angelic, aren't they? For me - Jessye Norman with the American Boys Choir singing Christmastide sends chills. Britten's Ceremony of Carols. Tony Sandler's and Ralph Young's I Sing Noel - it's such a bittersweet song. It really makes me appreciate what I have and is such a good reminder to do as much as I can during the Christmas season. And Nat King Cole's version of The Christmas Song is simply perfect.

  9. I'm not particularly religious but I love carols and religious Christmas music. O Holy Night is probably my favorite. And anything with hand bells is wonderful during the holidays. There is a song in the middle of the movie, The Bishop's Wife (the one with Cary Grant), that is sung by a boys choir. I have no idea of the title but it is something to be heard.

  10. I love them all too but I'd say O Holy Night is my favorite. It gives me chills every time I hear it.

  11. Some of my favorites are the more traditional carols as arranged by Sir David Willcocks and sung by King's. And I have to agree with frachellea, I love Britten's Ceremony of Carols and would add Rejoice in the Lamb to that list.

  12. More sexism and misoginy from the infamous Return of Kings site

    If you haven't signed the petition to remove that site from the internet yet, then please do so now:

    Good news- we got over 12,000 signatures now.

  13. On December 1st the nuns led us down the hall and we sang O Come, O come, Emmanuel! I still remember the solemnity of that and remember it fondly. Other than that, I think I loved Hark the Herald Angels Sing - probably from Charlie Brown's Chrismas, and don't forget the Vince Guaraldi melodies and the Grinch (not traditional carols, but still xmas!)

  14. Favorite? Not a chance - there are too many. Among the tops on my list are: White Christmas (by the Bingster, of course), Silver Bells, and all the medieval/ancient songs "The Anonymous Four" can find to sing. Any carol sung by Josh Groban is immediately my favorite. And "O Holy Night" - because it was my dad's favorite. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" always makes me cry, even though I am home. Maybe it makes me think of all the soldiers overseas who aren't.

  15. One of my favorites....

  16. So many favorite carols to choose from. Of course I love "O Come, O Come..." and then there is "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" and "The First Noel," among many others. Speaking of recorded Christmas music, I'm a sucker for the Carpenter's album, also Andy Williams, and then there are all the English recordings (love John Rutter). More recent albums I like include those by the Blenders, Diana Krall, and Michael Buble. Reggie

  17. There is no choice in my mind--I love almost all carols but "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" is far and away my favorite. I have never heard any but traditional versions so that was fun. Thanks and Merry Christmas, Meg!


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