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Sing, choirs of angels

December 10, 2008

I had a great Burning House birthday cake picture to share today for Wordless Wednesday.  But once again my computer is on the fritz and I can’t access the internet or my pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine the cake.  I’m borrowing  dh’s laptop to do Cocoa’s Wordfull Wednesday about Christmas music instead.

I love Christmas music, or I should say I love Christmas carols.  I love the music that celebrates the birth of our Lord and Savior.  I can’t quite say I hate Santa songs, or music about snowy weather, chestnuts, reindeer, and other assortments of “holiday” items, but aside from Deck the Halls (especially in 7/8 time) I prefer carols about the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

I’m recycling this list from a post last Christmas to save myself some typing (also the shift key doesn’t work too well on dh’s laptop and it’s driving me nuts.)  My tastes don’t change much and I just cannot narrow down my list of favorites more than this.

Traditional Carols:

  • I love Silent Night, especially with the 3rd verse changed to “Radiance beams from thy holy face.”  I have many fond memories of singing this at the end of oh, so many choir concerts as the lights dimmed down around us.
  • Once in Royal David’s City and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, both arranged by David Willcocks.
  • Away in a Manger–I would sing this to A when he was a baby.  I didn’t get out much that December, having a newborn.  We spent a lot of sleepless nights nursing and staring at the Christmas tree lights.  I realized I needed to memorize more lullabies.  I hardly knew any and I still don’t sing much to my babies, which kind of surprises me, but we sang this one a lot that year.  

Not so familiar:

  • Patapan
  • Ding, Dong! Merrily on High arranged by David Willcocks
  • Child in a Manger, words by John Rutter and music arranged by John Rutter: I just discovered this one last year and I love it.
  • I Saw Three Ships arranged by Mack Wilberg
  • Coventry Carol, dating back to the 1500’s–There’s a spot where one part goes down to an F-sharp while another part comes up to an F-natural.  Oh, the dissonance!  I love it.  Most arrangements try to avoid it. 
  • Speaking of ancient carols,  Personent Hodie
  • Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree, something not so ancient
  • Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Vaughan Williams–It starts with a cello solo, then adds baritone solo, choir and orchestra. 
  • Two much newer carols I count among my favorites are Angels’ Carol by John Rutter and his What Sweeter Music .  They are both so beautiful and generally never fail to bring tears to my eyes for the associated memories.

But if I had to absolutely pick only one favorite overall, it would be Oh, Come All Ye Faithful.  I love the music, I love the words.  The original hymn tune, Adeste Fideles was written in 1743 by Francis Wade who probably also wrote the original four verses.  Four more verses were added along the way by others and have been widely translated from the Latin.  My favorites are the three that are included in our church’s hymnals.  As I sing it, I want to be counted among the faithful going to “adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels;


Oh, come let us adore him;
Oh, come let us adore him;
Oh, come let us adore him; Christ, the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God
In the highest;


Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Son of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.


My two favorite arrangements of this carol are sung by King’s College Choir, Cambridge on Noel: Christmas at King’s and by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on  Sing, Choirs of Angels .

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2008 11:58 pm

    I love your list! Patapan and Coventry Carol are high on my favorites list as well. I must have a pension for the not so familiar.

  2. Allison permalink
    December 11, 2008 8:38 am

    I enjoyed reading your list, both traditional and unfamiliar. I love John Rutter!

  3. December 11, 2008 10:09 am

    Thanks for such a great list. I will look for Child in a Manger. I have always enjoyed John Rutter.

  4. December 11, 2008 11:35 am

    I don’t know any of the songs on your “not so familiar” list! I like the other songs you list, especially God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. Something about Christmas makes me love to hear men singing. My dad had a great deep voice, and I loved to hear him sing at Christmas. He’s the only one in my family that had any musical talent. I think he’s the reason some of my favorite carols are God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, We Three Kings, and Good King Wenceslas. I also love, love, love O Little Town of Bethlehem. What a fun post!

  5. December 11, 2008 1:53 pm

    I hope you are asking for a computer for christmas! Ha ha! I have to agree on the choices here- I love The Holly and the Ivy. This is my favorite music season to listen to little people practicing. I love to hear Hillary attempting to play anything on the harp!

  6. Michelle permalink
    December 11, 2008 2:06 pm

    I like your list! (And speaking of lullabies, I really like John Rutter’s “Christmas Lullaby.”) When we were in Al Ain our local choral society did a “Christmas Around the World” performance and I learned a bunch of new carols from other countries–there are so many beautiful Christmas carols! We sang “Riu Riu Chiu” in Spanish, “He is born” in French, etc. It was really fun, even though I’m a terrible singer. 🙂

  7. Terry permalink
    December 11, 2008 4:23 pm

    One doesn’t hear it often, and even more rarely, done well, but my favorite is Wexford Carol.

  8. December 13, 2008 7:48 am

    I remember when you recommended The Holly and the Ivy last year. I went and borrowed it from the library. I will have to do it again. I remember it was great!

  9. December 15, 2008 11:58 am

    great post K!!! i really love music too. though I’m not as talented wit hit as you are. My favorite Christmas song is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. that’s a good one. hope you are having a great holiday season so far!!!

  10. December 17, 2008 9:31 pm

    i am a huge mack wilberg fan and have been ever since my byu days (when he was there, not with the mormon tabernacle choir.) my favorite christmas cds are sing, choirs of angels, a celebration of christmas (a byu choir concert that i attended back in my zoobie days), and christmas day in the morning (cambridge singers directed by john rutter.) i guess i just really like traditional carols, performed by a choir, with gorgeous arrangements.

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