I took a look and realized that this will be the fifth year I’m posting about holiday music. So be it!
I love singing carols and attending holiday concerts. However, some holiday music (more what’s played in stores rather than the concerts I attend) strikes me as cloyingly cheerful, too materialistic, or just not in the spirit of light and love. Some of my least-favorites:
- “Santa Baby” yes, I know it’s supposed to be funny. Oh well.
- “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” ditto, and it traumatized my daughters when they were young.
- “I Need a Little Christmas”–just a little avoidant?
As an antidote, I like to browse Youtube to find lovely and unusual music that appeals to me. Here are some of this year’s finds:
“The Coventry Carol” dates from the 16th century. It was suppressed for a time, but Coventry antiquarian Thomas Sharp published a transcription in 1817, so perhaps this may have been sung during the Regency. It is sad and incredibly beautiful. I’m going to be singing it with my UU church’s choir this Christmas Eve, likely with tears pouring down my face, but that’s just as it should be. Here’s a version by Anuna.
“Gaudete”, also from the 16th century, is one of the more popular of my favorites. Here’s an interesting arrangement from the Mediaeval Baebes.
I first heard “Riu Riu Chiu” at a Twelfth Night performance by the Binghamton Madrigal Choir and loved it. It’s also 16th century, but from Spain so it probably wouldn’t have been familiar to Regency characters. Later I found a delightful version by none other than the Monkees. This year, I found another delightful version performed by Dagilelis (“Little Thistle”), an excellent boys’ choir from Siauliai, Lithuania, which is not far from where some of my ancestors lived.
The other piece my choir will sing on Christmas eve is “Ding Dong Merrily on High”. Although the tune dates from the 16th century and it sounds like something people might have sung during the Regency, the lyrics (by English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward) were first published in 1924. I like this version from London Contemporary Voices.
If you’d like to check out my earlier posts, here’s the list.
- “A Christmas Rant and some music” (2015)
- “Holiday Music Traditional and Reinvented” (2014)
- Antidote for Carol of the Bells (2012)
- Carols and Winners
What are your favorite and least favorite holiday tunes?