Your Favorite Christmas Carol? "Sacred Miscellany" wants to know
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Dear Cognoscenti,

    I'm in the pre-planning phase for next year's Christmas album. Let me know your favorite carol. (No, you won't win anything.) Why do I ask? Because all of you think about music all the time - and because you might have favorites that I don't know or have overlooked.

    Please go to Sacred Miscellany, my blog and let me know.
  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    I posted there, but for here as well:
    Bethlehem Down, Peter Warlock
  • My immediate response to your question would be 'Of the Father's heart begotten' in either language.
    But, if you seek less often heard ones, one might put forth 'This Endris Night'.
    A not often heard, but charming one might be 'O I would go to Bethlehem', by David McKay Williams - and there is his 'Noel', for two equal (boys) voices.
    An unusual but very beautiful one is 'Jesu parvule', a soprano solo by Donald Swann.
    The Oxford Book of Carols is, of course, an inexhaustible reservoir.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    "Inexhaustible" is truly the right word for the Oxford Book of Carols, especially the new edition that came out several years ago. Some days I never get around to the music because I'm so busy enjoying the historical and performance notes. Highly recommended for any carol fiend (and of course, I love the older one as well).
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 754
    Tavener's setting of Blake's "The Lamb" is stunning and a challenge to do well.

    (ignore the incorrect scrolling score - just listen)

    (I posted over there, too)
  • What is our definition of a carol? Would John Jacob Niles songs be included- if so, I have always loved singing 'The Carol of the Birds" esp the Owl's verse! LOL I'm not mentioning all the others in OBC Others by Niles- Jesus, Jesus rest your Head, Sweet Marie and her baby and of course, I wonder as I wander.
    The Little Road to BEthlehem by Michael Head is one of my all-time favs. He also has a nice setting of 'Ave Maria'(Unusual)
    I'm not sure I'd classify 'Bethlehem Down' as a carol- I know it's published that way, but I learned it as a Christmas solo- a rather dark one at that.

  • "The Snow Lay on the Ground" is one I have loved for years ... especially after being in the Holy Land a few years ago when Bethlehem to Jerusalem was under a blanket of snow at Christmas.

    "A Stable Lamp Is LIghted" -- poem by Richard Wilbur, tune 'ANDUJAR' by David Hurd -- is absolutely stunning.

    Of my own texts, Sing of Mary, Blest is She is one I recommend. And I love Noel Jones' new tune 'CEREDIGION' for my text Mother of Mercy, Peace, and Love.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I too wonder about carol vs. Christmas hymn. Where is the line drawn? I realize that there is one, and I can sort a few songs into either category, but narrowing down why is another matter...
  • It's rather like the difference between anthem and motet, isn't it? All motets are anthems, but all anthems are not motets.
    The early carol was a quite distinct form of English origin beginning with a burden (refrain) which then alternates with verses. They were often macaronic, but could, as well, be in English or Latin. An example would be the somewhat well known 'There is no rose' by Anonymous. Nor were carols peculiar to Christmas: they might be about other feasts, as well. The favoured carols of our day are, then, really not carols in a strict, or musicological, sense. Carols such as 'Silent night, holy night', or 'O little town of Bethlehem' are actually Christmas religious or spiritual songs. Some, such as 'Of the Father's heart', or 'Hark!, the herald...", because of their theological content and tone, could be classed as hymns. However, I shall continue to call them carols.
  • Oooh, it's so hard to pick, MJ.
    Personent hodie
    Would be superly cool on harp.
    Will go to your blog, too.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,898
    I like too many of them. It's hard to pick a favorite.
  • "O Little Town of Bethlehem" to Walford Davies' tune.
    "In the Bleak Midwinter" to Harold Darke's tune.
    "Once in Royal David's City"
    "See Amid the Winter's Snow"
    "Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning" to George Thalden-Ball's tune "Jesmian".
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    The Wexford Carol
    Whence Comes This Rush of Wings?
    In Dulci Jubilo
    A Stable Lamp is Lighted
    Lullay My Liking
    Il est Ne

    Oh, stop me, I could go on, and on, and on.... (the Shepherd' Farewell from Berlioz L'Enfance du Christ isn't a carol, I suppose, but...)

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,690
    Ding Dong, Merrily on High
  • Yes, I agree. Especially the "Glorias" - a nice comparison "Angels We Have Heard on High".
  • "The Wexford Carol" because ... it's Irish!
  • Carols were originally sung outside the Church and were occasions for dancing ... if memory serves; and, of course, that is not the origin of hymns.
  • I'm with Jackson in that I'll take any version of Corde natus in Latin or English. There is a stunning arrangement for choir+organ by Wilbur Chenoweth that I believe would be equally stunning on the harp. (Or maybe that's a chant we shouldn't try to sneak in....? :-)

    R. R. Terry's Myn lyking
    Thou didst leave (O come to my heart, Lord Jesus) tune Margaret (oops, also a hymn)
    Riu riu chiu
  • Blaise
    Posts: 439
    "Sussex Carol"
    "Candlelight Carol"
    "Once in Royal David's City"...

    ...among others.
  • Seems like we have a lot of things I would not classify as a carol, per se.(Including some I myself have mentioned already) Surely "Of the Father's love" is a chant or at least a Latin hymn? Not 'dancing' enough. LOL
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    For my purposes, I'll stretch the definition of "carol." Keep those ideas coming. I'm sure that I'm not the only one getting some ideas for next year. (And yes, this Christmas will come and go - and God willing, we'll see another.)
  • I always feel it it such a shame that Christmas season is so short for carols and there are SO MANY!!! We do sing 30 mins of preservice music for Midnight Mass, but can't begin to get all of my favs in. Goes w/o saying.

  • Maureen
    Posts: 673
    Suantrai na Maighdine (The Virgin's Lullaby), Taladh Chriosta (St. Brigid's lullaby for the Christ child, from a Barra legend), and Do'n Oiche ud i mBeithil are all new to me this year and very pretty. (Well, knowing what Taladh Chriosta was about -- that was new.) And "Child of Wonder", the original words attached to Bunessan -- allllll 40 gazillion verses of it!

    I'm deep into making my annual torment-the-family-with-carols-they've-never-heard homemade stocking stuffer album. You can never run out of carols.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Maureen - When I was a teenager, my mother asked me if I would please play an occasional Christmas carol that someone else had heard and might want to sing. By the time I was 17, I relented. Now I play a mix of music when I "play out," especially if I'm doing background. The ratio is about 3 known to 1 exotic.

    I'm looking forward to investigating your suggestions. My guess is that Taladh Chriosta is the "Christ Child's Lullaby" - it's a perennial favorite with Celtic harp players. In my line of music, you can't go wrong if it's Celtic, so I'm happy to add new.
  • Wonderful list... Cordis natus is one of my faves...

    also... Est ist ein Ros entsprungen... (Lo, How a Rose?)
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Keep 'em coming. I promise to assemble a single list after Christmas for everyone's reference use in the Christmas in July planning cycle.

    Happy 4th Sunday!
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    Tu scendi

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Przybieżeli do Betlejem and Gdy Śliczna Panna
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • "Christmas in July planning cycle" touche LOL

    As an Anglo-Catholic child, singing Corde natus in Latin and English with original rhythms AND the British version in English in 3/4 time, I was convinced that Corde natus was the Angelic Waltz in celebration of the Incarnation, as O filii et filiae is the Church's Waltz in celebration of the Dalcroze eurhythmics teacher at university did nothing to dispel those notions! (After you've danced your way through all those Tamburitzan dances in mixed meters plus chants, you'll never think of the joyful chants as stodgy again. Vocal 'dancing' in chant is as close as I want to ever be to 'liturgical dance,' thank you very much.)

    I'm looking forward to the list!
  • Maureen, I'm glad to see someone else likes "Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil," a carol I've loved ever since I heard Kevin Conneff sing it on the Chieftains' Bells of Dublin. I'm also partial to "St Stephen's Day Murders" on the same album.... :-)

    Add to my list:

    Il Est Né
    Puer Natus
    Ding Dong! Merrily on High (for the melisma on "Gloria")
    What Child Is This? (complete lyrics, not merely repeating the end of verse 1 as a refrain)
    Corde Natus
  • francis
    Posts: 10,513
    Resonet was certainly a big hit this Christmas here. We sponsored various flavors.

    1. pure chant (right out of the PBC)
    2. accompanied chant with Krumhorn and alternate tuning (improvised accompaniment)
    3. English translation, four part metered, a cappella
    4. Postlude improvisation utilizing the Tuba Mirabilis with Zimbelstern.

    Christus Natus Est! May you all have a Blessed Christmas Season!
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Last call for favorites! Make sure yours is included. And don't worry about duplicating someone else's entry.

    I'll be making up the list over the next few days and will post it here as a PDF.
  • Am I the only one that remembers and or likes the Hymnal 1940 tunes CHARTRES - "Saw You Never In The Twilight" and MORNING STAR - "Brightest and Best Are the Sons of the Morning" ? (Yes, I know that technically they are Epiphany Carols, but I always associated them with Christmastide too. :)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Ken, we're doing "Brightest" at my Episcopal church on Sunday, to that tune!

    A carol I've recently found and loved: Noel Etranger, which is #8 in the Daquin set.
  • Saw You Never is in the PBEH.
  • BTW the word villancico came to mean a Christmas "carol" since there were so many written for the Christmas season. Before the 17th century, only a few villancicos had Christmas texts. Most were for the Carnival season or Reconquista songs.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,513
    We need to put together a Christmas Music publication that is similar to the PBEH hymnal but includes simple motets and carols in Latin and original languages.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    its interesting that you mentioned resonent in laudibus. We did the Handl setting and it was a big hit.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Here it is! The Favorite Carols of 2009, thanks to all of you and some of the readers over at Sacred Miscellany.
    Print this out and throw it in a drawer until your head clears from Christmas.
    Happy New Year to all of you - and God Bless Us Everyone!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Francis,

    Great fact, a set of Seasonal Booklets would be of great interest, I think.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,513

    Absolutely. Right along the lines of what you have already been publishing.
  • since we've had so many resurrected threads lately,
    and since we've had so many new members since 2009,
    I thought I'd bring this one back. :-)

    I love to sing "It Came Upon The (or A) Midnight Clear" - old melody. All verses.
    And "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence".
    And "Stille Nacht" !
    Thanked by 1janetgorbitz
  • The Coventry Carol
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Anything by Alfred Burt
  • Corde natus ex parentis - equally in Latin or English, this, I think, is my favourite Christmas hymn.
    I am especially partial to Willcocks' triple metre arrangement as found in Carols for Choirs.
    I have Prudentius' complete works - the poem from which this poem is taken contains over one hundred stanzas.

    "In the Bleak Midwinter', to Cranham comes to mind as a particularly profound experience.

    "O Little Town of Bethlehem', only as sung to Forrest Green with David Willcocks' descant.

    'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night', to Winchester Old with Willcocks' descant.

    There are so many - these just came 'off the top of my head' and I shall stop here.
    Thanked by 1Patricia Cecilia
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,898
    While shepherds washed their socks by night
    All seated round a tub.
    The angel of the Lord came down
    And gave them all a scrub.
    And gave them all a scrub.
    Thanked by 3JulieColl Liam CHGiffen
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    Every year I discover a new favorite! This year it's "Christmas Lullaby" by John Rutter.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW dgol6384
  • "Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming"

    "Angels from the Realms of Glory"

    "What Child is This" (with the original lyrics)

    "Patapan" with the French lyrics!

    Guillaume, prends ton tambourin,
    Toi, prends ta flûte, Robin;
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Turelurelu, patapatapan,
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Je dirai Noël gaîment.

    C’était la mode autrefois,
    De louer le Roi des rois,
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Turelurelu, patapatapan,
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Il nous en faut faire autant.

    Ce jour le diable est vaincu
    Rendons-en grace a Jésus.
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Turelurelu, patapatapan,
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Faisons la nique a Satan.

    L’homme et Dieu sont plus d’accord,
    Que la flûte et le tambour;
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Turelurelu, patapatapan,
    Au son de ces instruments,
    Chantons, dansons, sautons en!

    Fairly literal translation (so said the website I found; my French isn't nearly good enough to translate it).

    Willie take your little drum,
    Robin take your flute, come!
    To the sound of these instruments
    Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
    To the sound of these instruments
    I will joyfully sing Merry Christmas!

    It was the way of yonder times
    To praise the king of kings
    To the sound of these instruments
    Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
    To the sound of these instruments
    We must do the same.

    Man and god agree
    About the flute and the little drum…
    To the sound of these instruments
    Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
    To the sound of these instruments
    Sing! Dance! Jump around!

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,620
    We three kings of Orient are,
    in search of a pub it can't be too far...
    end purple text.

    Well it is difficult to choose a favourite,
    The Salutation Carol
    although these words are an interesting alternative,
    Bring us in good ale

    These are also very good,
    The Truth sent from above
    The Praise of Christmas
    The Sussex carol
    Down in Yon forest
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,898
    JulieColl, that is pretty. I may see if I can order the sheet music. Thanks.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    I got it from Sheet Music Plus. Came in a few days. The "Ave Maria" chorus is so lovely.

    We're also learning "What Sweeter Music" by John Rutter. Couldn't decide which one I liked more, so I got both. : )

    I think the Rutter carols make a charming addition to the traditional carols.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW