Memes

RevGal Friday Five: Christmas Music

1) If you had to choose CDs as a soundtrack for the Christmas season, what would they be?

On the sacred side, I have a CD made a several years ago by the Fabulous Choir at Large Church. I was finishing seminary and didn’t have time for the extra rehearsals required to be on the recording, but I love listening to it. It takes me back to the music we sang on Christmas Eve, something I miss very much. I have two copies, one for the car and one for the office!

This year, Handel’s Messiah has gotten a lot of play, perhaps more than usual even, since I have added a Neville Marriner recording to my collection but also listened to Sir Colin Davis.

And my “bring the holiday season blood pressure down” listen is definitely A Winter’s Solstice V, which has been in my car CD player almost constantly.

2) How do you feel about singing all the verses of “The First Noel?”

Our hymnal has six, and I enjoy singing all of them, but I find most congregations peter out after 2 or 3 unless there is a strong choir supporting the effort. What would they do if we gave them the original 9?

And, seriously, this is one we probably don’t need to sing:

Between an ox stall and an ass,
This Child truly there He was;
For want of clothing they did Him lay
All in a manger, among the hay.

3) “O, Come All Ye Faithful” has a lot of verses, too. Which is your favorite?

When I was a little girl, I learned the first verse in Latin at my Southern Baptist kindergarten (we were still progressive in those days, I guess), so it was my favorite for a long time. As a grown-up singer, I loved “Sing, choirs of angels,” because who can resist the incredible descant? But at Large Church I learned to love another verse, the one we sang each year without the organ. I was driving home from a meeting up north last year on December 23rd, a terrible day for a meeting, and feeling desperate after a disheartening meeting earlier that week to look at the church budget for the coming year, wondering if I had gotten it all wrong. Should I even be doing what I was doing? That CD was playing in the car, and the sun was shining so brightly it hurt on that bitterly cold day. And I heard that a capella verse as if I had never heard it before:

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?

And then I knew better.

4) What music do you play while opening presents?

In recent years, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

5) Which carols do you consider to be Christmas Eve essentials?

O, Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night

(Not that there aren’t plenty of others, but without those, I would really feel disappointed.)

and a Bonus Question:

6) What, if any, is your favorite secular Christmas song?

This is really a winter song, but I absolutely love “Sleigh Ride” and its sound effects (especially the whinnying horse!). Somewhere we have an Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Christmas CD, and that will definitely be played on Christmas Day.

If you play this, please leave a comment here and I promise to come and visit!

8 thoughts on “RevGal Friday Five: Christmas Music”

  1. I didn’t play, but I do love the descant in O Come All Ye Faithful. I pretend to be an alto just to sing it…
    I also love the descant in Hark the Herald. Christmas songs are so wonderful!

  2. We sang “Sleigh Ride” at our concert with the sound effects (I was the horse that made the “raspberry” sound, not the whinnying sound) – it was too much fun.

  3. 1) If you had to choose CDs as a soundtrack for the Christmas season, what would they be?
    Carols from King’s College Choir
    Cambridge Singers Christmas CDs (Christmas With, Christmas Night and Christmas Day in the Morning)
    Winchester Cathedral Choir Carols
    2) How do you feel about singing all the verses of “The First Nowell?”
    I think it’s probably a stretch, and I think it would be better to just sing it as it’s done in the arrangement by Sir David Willcocks in the Carols for Choirs books.
    3) “O, Come All Ye Faithful” has a lot of verses, too. Which is your favorite?
    I love the “Sing choirs of angels” verse, the third in the original J.F. Wade version, because it’s the verse with that special Willcocks Descant.
    4) What music do you play while opening presents?
    I’d love to play a CD of John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers, probably Christmas Day in the Morning.
    5) Which carols do you consider to be Christmas Eve essentials?
    Once in Royal David’s City
    Silent Night (please, no squelchy harmonies. Donald Cashmore arrangement is very suitable.)
    O Come, all ye Faithful (with Willcocks Descant0
    Hark! the Herald (with Willcocks Descant)
    6) What, if any, is your favorite secular Christmas song?
    I’m really not a fan of the “non-carol pops”. However, of these, I think that a down-to-earth rendition of Rudolph can really embody Christmas without being too over-the-top. I cannot say I’m a fan of Santa’s Coming to Town, as I find the words tend to scold us all even if we’ve been good. But wherever possible I would like to try to avoid these.
    I would confess a fondness for the John Rutter arrangements of Deck the hall, 12 Days of Christmas and We wish you.

  4. I’m sorry I have to post again, as there were things I forgot to include in my previous reply.
    I would like to say that we could just stick to the traditional six verses of First Nowell like your hymnal does and also like what’s included in Carols for Choirs. Also, I can share your preference for O Little Town as essential for Christmas Eve. While you may be familiar with the American version by Lewis Redner, there’s a setting by Vaughan Williams that perfectly fits the words to a charming English folk tune (the “Forests Green” tune). The Henry Walford Davies setting of the carol is also wonderfully suitable, as it is very alert to the meaning of the words.
    And, of course, there’s Silent Night. It would be lovely to have an unaffected arrangement without any squelchy harmonies, sung to the traditional John Freeman Young translation.

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