5th Annual Unusual Holiday Music Post

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.

What are your favorite and least favorite holiday tunes?

Elena

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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