Friday, December 23, 2005

More about carols...

My good friend Songbird posted a Friday Five for the RevGals, and since I've now done the unthinkable and finished my Christmas sermon more than 30 hours before I have to preach it, I'm joining in with the festive theme (and in glorious technicolour too!), - though thinking about music is currently kind of sad, as I'm far from hearing in stereo. Will anything as wonderful as the Radio 3 BachFest ever be heard again, when I have both ears tuned??

Sorry..I digress...On with the meme

1) If you had to choose CDs as a soundtrack for the Christmas season, what would they be?
Sorry to be obvious, but carols from Kings. My earliest childhood memories involve making mincepies on Christmas Eve while the sound of the Festival of Nine Lessons...floated all over the house. There was less of an intensive build up to Christmas in the 60s, in sleepy Sussex at any rate, and this always felt like the real beginning of Christmas for me. Since then, it has been the soundtrack for wrapping stocking presents, though a 4.00 crib service has prevented me from hearing the live broadcast for years now.

2) How do you feel about singing all the verses of "The First Noel"? (Six in our hymnal, but apparently there are nine.)
I don't honestly want to sing any of them before Epiphany....they seem to place more emphasis on the Wise Men than they ought, to feature at Christmas. And that opening musical phrase does get rather tedious by the end....6 verses is certainly an ample sufficiency!

3) "O, Come All Ye Faithful" has a lot of verses, too. Which is your favorite?
Tricky...I love singing the David Willcocks descant to "Sing choirs of angels"....but I also get a thrill from singing "Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born THIS happy morning" as the first thing to be sung after midnight tomorrow night...And who can resist the John 1 reference in v2?
Suspect I'm just rather fond of the whole thing.

4) What music do you play while opening presents?
We don't tend to play music then....It'll be after lunch, and we have a tradition of taking it in turns so that everyone gets a chance to admire (or in a few cases comiserate). I tend to prefer to listen to music rather than just have it playing unheeded...though later on we'll listen to the Corelli Christmas Concerto, as I try desperately to stay awake after the Midnight Mass/stockings/8.00 Communion marathon. That used to belong to Christmas Eve, but there simply isn't the time to sit with it nowdays. Sometime I need to listen to the Christmas Oratorio too...Unlike many other respondents, Messiah is primarily Passiontide and Holy Week for me, because that's when I used to be taken to hear it as a child

5) Which carols do you consider to be Christmas Eve essentials?
At Church...It came upon the Midnight Clear, O Little Town, O Come All ye Faithful (has to be timed carefully to allow the last verse to be sung in unadapted splendour) and, if the choir are feeling obliging, I do love to hear the Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night all Christians sing) during Communion. I love, love LOVE Of the Father's Heart begotten too, but sadly few congregations seem to really know it, so it's a nostalgic memory of my chorister years. I'm assuming that Once in Royal will have already been covered at the Nine Lessons and Carols.
At home...since they were small the children and I have done some carolling by candlelight when we come home from the crib service. It used to be the last thing before it's the last thing before we eat and rouse ourselves to head out again for Midnight. Essentials here are
Wind through the Olive trees, Now Light one thousand Christmas lights, The Little Road to Bethlehem (that is DarlingDaughter's "party piece", which I won't let her give up even at her advanced years, she sings it so very beautifully) and the Coventry Carol.
And, to cheat and answer a question I wasn't asked, I do sulk a bit if I don't get to sing Christians Awake in church on Christmas morning,- even if there are no Christians awake in sight!

and a Bonus Question:

6) What, if any, is your favorite secular Christmas song?
Ooh, I'm grateful for the "If any" as I'm struggling here,- can't say I really enjoy any of the more recent secular offerings, though I love the Gloucestershire Wassail. I hope that will qualify!

Well, that was a happily self indulgent exercise, so I guess the only option now is to go and do something worthy like wrap presents...Perhaps the family will let me listen to Bach as I do so.

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