Skip to comments.Top ten Carols and things you didn't know about them
Posted on 12/10/2007 10:37:26 AM PST by NYer
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I am a member of the Commissioning Club of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, and I've been involved in the commissioning of 3 chamber works we premiered at our summer festival.
I applaud your knowledge and your talents. What wonderful, graceful interests you have.
It's a real curse, you have no idea how painful it is when folks are just a little bit off! And when something is transposed, and he's looking at the original score, it sends him into a tailspin.
My interests may be graceful, but I’m not. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
I ordinarily do not care for Mahler at all, but somebody gave me a recording of des Knabens Wunderhorn with Fischer-Diskau and Schwartzkopf, and darned if I don't like it a lot. Is it atypical of his music, or am I just prejudiced against Mahler's symphonies?
It’s a curse, all right. During my youthful church-going days I could hear that the congregation was anywhere from a quarter tone to a half tone off from the organ. Catholics neither sing loud nor do their organists play loud. (The Protestants knew how to sing!) The low volume on the organ caused the congregation to drift off in pitch during the hymn. It drove me nuts.
I took piano for about a million years, sort of quit in college, then took it back up recently when I had a Steinway fall in my lap (no, it didn't hurt much) and then got hold of a harpsichord. I fool around with the guitar and have sung in church choirs since I was 6. And last year my husband made me a deal that he would sing in the choir if I would ring handbells (they were short on people who read music). I'm enjoying it a whole lot more than I thought I would -- I have the top end, so am in charge of 6 bells and sometimes get a little harried, but it's fun and it's L-O-U-D!
You need to come to our joint. We sing LOUD . . . and while our music director doesn’t like to blow the congregation out of the building, he cranks it up enough to keep everybody on track. Then he blows them out of the building with the postlude . . . I didn’t know anything about the French composers to speak of until I got here, he did a Fulbright at Lyons and he’s a big fan of Vierne, Vidor, Franck, and so forth . . . but thank goodness (since I’m an ex-Episcopalian) he doesn’t neglect Byrd, Tallis, and Gibbons.
I started writing about the symphonies, but I quickly realized I was going to end up with an entry the length of a scholarly paper. I love the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 9th. The 6th and 7th leave me cold, and I have mixed feelings about the 8th in spite of the magnificent choral work.
I would recomend starting with the 1st and listening to it about 5 times to get the shape of the work. If you can, find the 5-movement version with the extra slow movement (Blumine) that Mahler removed at publication time. He quotes from Blumine extensively in the finale, so the 4-movement version doesn't quite add up.
From there, move to the 2nd, which is still my favorite. I could write an entire thread about that symphony and the cross-quoting from his lieder and the work of other composers that he uses as the musical version of literary allusion.
(Dangerous subject to get me started on.)
Lo! How a Rose e’er blooming.
Hardihar, of course.
Ah, the French Organ Movement.
Franck has to stand next to Bach in his organ music. It far outranks his symphony, tone poems and (maybe) the Violin Sonata in A.
His Grand Symphonic Piece in F# minor is a masterpiece and shows just how effective he was as a composer for organ. The pedal work in the finale is mindboggling.
The Fantasie in A is not something you want to hear in a dark room. He spins a 4 bar unit out to heavenly length but spends very little time in A Major, using 3 sharps as a key of convenience while he travels elsewhere. And it's a very spooky trip, ending in A minor.
But some of the Lieder send chills up my spine. "Der Arme Tambourg'selle" just for example
I took German for ten years so I'm used to morbid. There's a strong streak of that in almost any German poet.
There are rumors in the air of a new organ . . . maybe when it's installed (if we're all still alive then). The current organ is not that great, certainly not worthy of the beautiful room, which has perfect acoustics for chant and polyphony and also for organ.
"Revelge" is another deliciously morbid piece with that driving rhythm that stops for nothing, including death.
"Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen" is quoted in the 1st, and "Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt" forms the scherzo of the 2nd -- with an interruption for the End of the World Motif (used again twice in the finale).
The 5-movement of the 1st that I have is by Mehta conducting the Israel Phil from 1987 on EMI. It's not as good as Bernstein's 4-movement version from the Fifties, but it has that "missing" 2nd movement.
Don’t forget “O Come All Ye Ambivalent”.
Possibly because it looks forward to Christ's return as much as or more than it looks back at His birth.
I have a special devotion to St. Anthony, and that's why I got the CD for Christmas! . . . and one thing led to another.
"Revelge" ought to be illustrated by Goya. But "Wo die schönen Trompetten blasen" is just sad and beautiful.
Same here - I love Perry Como’s version (to me whenever he got to the part “fall on your knees, o hear the angel voice”) I really literally felt like falling to my knees in worship of the Savior...Awesome song...Josh Grobin does good also! LOVE his Christmas tape (especially the one “I’ll be home for CHristmas” where they have taped greeting from military folks away serving to their families - makes me cry EVERY time!)
That's one of my favorites too.
Alison Krauss sings the Charlie Brown Christmas song, “Christmas is Near,” I think. And I love the way she sings it.
I wonder if carols are by definition choral numbers. “O Holy Night” is my favorite, also, but it is sung as a solo, not as a choral number.
I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I never heard of these two:
Once in Royal David’s City
In the Bleak Midwinter
I’m wondering where “Angels we have heard on high (Gloria, in excelsis deo)” is.
“Gloria, in Excelsis Deo” - an excellent choice!
Did you see the OCP’s NEW missalette? The 2008 version is by far the worst ever. For instance: Five different glorias, all wretched, all by St. Louis Jesuits, and all canonically improper in that the congregation only participates in a one-line chorus. And more pagan witchy-poo than you can shake a stick at. Nearly every song in it reads like a sorority ritual.
Missalette or "Music Issue"? I've seen them ... in that my current Parish uses them ... but haven't studied them in any great detail.
Five different glorias,
Because we must have "choice" and "diversity".
all by St. Louis Jesuits
Did music even exist before the SLJs?
, and all canonically improper
Middle finger to B16?
To their credit, the guitar-bangers have been using "O Come Emanuel" for a processional ... and one or two other, reasonably decent hymns during Mass. But then it goes down hill.
Let us not pollute this thread with any more talk of They From The Pacific Northwest Who Shall Not Be Named.
On Jordan’s Bank
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake and hearken, for He brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings.
Then cleansed be ev’ry heart from sin;
Make straight the way of God within;
Oh, let us all our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.
To heal the sick stretch out Thine hand,
And bid the fallen sinner stand;
Shine forth, and let Thy light restore
Earth’s own true loveliness once more.
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
Whose advent sets Thy people free;
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forever more.
Charles Coffin (composed 1736)
>> They From The Pacific Northwest Who Shall Not Be Named. <<
From now on, OPP. (Oregon Pagan Press) (How long is it before “Who’s down with OPP?” is used as a recessional?)
>> Let us not pollute this thread <<
1. O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviors birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world1 rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine.
2. Led by the light of faith serenely beaming Chorus
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend.
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
3. Truly He taught us to love one another Chorus
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
Excellent choice for today.
Here are your words — now everyone sing! And hit the high notes! LOL!
I gotta agree. O Holy Night not only humbles me but depending on the singer my eyes get all fuzzy and stuff.
By far my favorite religious based carol.
Gotta go with Jingle Bell Rock for my non-religious based.
"Ex Maria virginae, gaudete!"
One of my favorites as well. First time I ever heard it was from a really obscure British folk group named Steeleye Span. One of Ian Anderson's (Jethro Tull) Chrysalis projects, I believe. I have the album.
For young people, an "album" was physical object similar to those ancient ones called "CD's" only with a littler hole in the middle. You couldn't download it. We used to spin it on a stick and pound on logs with rocks to keep time...
I also like the Coventry Carol. 16th century, that one.
**Please post your favorites!***
Anything EXCEPT the “rum-pum-pum-pum” song!
I saw three ships come sailing in..
God Christian Men rejoice..
God rest ye merry Gentlemen...
And these are just those off the top of my head!
It is very difficult to sing and I love when someone can do it well.
This is an English translation:
Barn, poor and silent,
Full of eternal glory
Jesus asleep now,
Lies in the crib, how
Does start salvation story?
While Christ is lying
Angels come flying
Kneel down while hiding their faces
With golden hair
High in the air
Praising God for all His graces
While Virgins bearing
Whole world is cheering
Power of devil is broken
God's sun has risen
Doors of the Heavens are open.
Thanks for those links!
You won't thank me for the brutal rendition, it will make your ears bleed!
ROFL! Thanks ... I needed a good laugh :-)
Really! What denomination is that?
We have all the Steeleye Span albums (AND the reissues on CD!), and all Prior's independent work, including Carols and Capers, Summer Solstice and Silly Sisters.
Some really good stuff, I think it introduced English folk and the Child and Sharpe ballads to people who would never have heard of it otherwise.
Our "Prelude to Christmas" concert included the Coventry Carol. It's my husband's absolute favorite carol. I'm quite variable -- my favorite tends to be whatever really good one I heard last. There's so much to choose from!
Even the "folk choir" at our old church couldn't sing THAT badly . . . . wow!
It might be worse than that!
Hey, I warned ya!
You are, of course, correct. However, the society at large views Christmas Day as the culmination, rather than the beginning of the 'Christmas Season'. Hence, this newspaper is more focused on the actual hymns of the season.
In keepig with Advent, however, at yesterday's Advent Lessons and Carols, the choir director selected one verse from our Traditional Christmas Novena, and sandwiched it in between the Holy, Holy Holy (Qou-ddous, Qou-ddous, Qou-ddous). This is from the Arsal Allah that we sing each night during the Novena.
Isaiah called Him wonderful and then foretold
His Kingdom on His shoulders He will always hold.
The thund'rous voice of God's own word is heard above
In Mary's womb the lion's whelp is hushed by love.
Ha-lel, Ha-lel, Ha-le-lou-noh
The other verses are equally beautiful. This is one of my most favorite.
This shining star the virgin lamp brings from her womb
When He arose preserved the seal upon His tomb.
She labored not in bearing Him but felt delight
Though born upon the midnight hour, He made it bright.
Ha-lel, Ha-lel, Ha-le-lou-noh
Mind you, we were a group of 5 women and 3 men, including the priest and organist. We are not trained as a choir. This combination of two chanted hymns was compiled by the priest and organist and we had only 1 rehearsal to learn it. But, the hymnody is so unique from western songs that several members of the other choirs came over later to comment on the music and how it had touched their souls. One woman went so far as to suggest that we make a recording of it and sell the CDs. ROFL!!! Just wait til Abouna hears that!
Our bishop will be joining us on December 20 to hear us sing. He is adamant that this Novena be held in ALL of his parishes. Our parish is quite small and getting parishioners to attend the Novena is as easy as moving a mountain. But I expect the Church will be packed on that day of the Novena. Fortunately, there is no pulling the wool over this bishop's eyes. He is very keen and aware of everything happening in the parishes of the eparchy. God bless him!
"Once in Royal David's City" is very Anglican, otherwise no call to have heard of it. For that matter, so is "In the Bleak Midwinter".
"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a poem by Christina Rosetti (the painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti's sister):
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth as hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God incarnate,
Enough for him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay.
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him
Give my heart.
"Once in Royal David's City" was written by Cecil Frances Alexander, who also wrote "All Things Bright and Beautiful" and a bunch of other poems and hymns. It's very long, and all the verses aren't usually sung.
Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.
Lichfield, btw, was Dr. Samuel Johnson's home town.