Christmas music!

*sings* “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…”

Five days till Christmas! Probably four by the time anybody reads this, with how late I’m posting. At this point a lot of people are frantically trying to wrap gifts and get Christmas cards in the mail (totally not including myself in this statement…). I myself got sick again, and am finally recovered enough to do all those last-minute Christmas preparations (and also blog).

As I cast about for a topic this afternoon, my handy book of notes still being locked in my mom’s car (in the snow. with ice.), my mom came in and gave me an early Christmas present. Apparently it was intended to be a stocking stuffer, but then she realized that it would probably get more use before Christmas than after. Anyway, it was a tin whistle sheet music book full of obscure Christmas songs, and it gave me the idea. Christmas music!

Christmas music is honestly probably one of my favorite parts of the lead up till Christmas. My family has never been very good at doing an advent wreath; we even forget about the advent calendar most of the time. This year set a record with the Christmas tree being up the first day of December. But we always have the music playing. It’s the first thing I dig out the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it plays nearly constantly up through Theophany.

We always listen to the ones everyone knows, like the First Nowel, O Come O Come Emanuel, and Good King Wenseslas. Currently my three year old twins brothers have been obsessed with Jingle Bells (all. the. time.). But the majority of my favorite carols are the really old ones. The ones where I say the name and people give me weird looks. “What? What one’s that?”

One of my favorite things about medieval carols is that they’re nearly always Christ-focused. You will hear nothing about the creepy stalker that is the modern-day Santa Claus (serious – he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake? If that’s not stalking I don’t know what is…) in these hymns. Then, of course, you have the good old drinking songs. But drinking songs are the best songs.

And now comes the point where I fill up your page with a ton of embedded YouTube videos. Watch one or all of them, if you like. But these are some of my favorite Christmas hymns.

Gaudete – This has held the place of my favorite Christmas hymn for years now. It was a proud day when I could translate the Latin of the chorus.

The Boar’s Head Carol – (excuse me a moment as I flail. I never thought I’d find this particular version on YT, and it’s by far my favorite) Okay. This is another one that I grew up with, butchering the Latin when I was little, and finally figuring out how to pronounce it two years ago. There’s a fun story behind this one. Apparently a loooong time ago, a student from Queen’s College, in Oxford, was out for a stroll and was attacked by a wild boar. He managed to kill said boar by stuffing a copy of Aristotle down it’s throat. The boar was then served up to the whole college and the song was made in honour of the occasion.

On This Day  – I was only just introduced to this about a month ago. A friend put me onto Quadriga Consort, and this quickly became one of my favorite songs. It’s slow for the first two and a half minutes, but then it get’s really fast. Besides the tune (which is beautiful) the lyrics are also among some of my favorite.

My Dancing Day – This has been a part of my family’s Christmas for as long as I can remember, but just recently I came across it in children’s book I read, the Children of Green Know. It turns out it’s a whole lot older than I originally thought, although I’m not sure how old. One of my favorite things about this one is the way that in it Christ is the singer, calling His true love, the Church, to the dance. It reminds me of Lord of the Dance (if you want to look it up, the Corries have the best version).

Wexford Carol – An old favorite, but I hadn’t heard Libera’s version till very recently, and I think it’s now my favorite.

In Dulci Jubilo – It’s the same tune as Good Christian Men Rejoice, but the words are half in Latin and I’m now forever getting the two mixed up. Still a favorite.

Gloucestershire Wassail – And here’s the promised drinking song. *grins* It’s actually quite tame compared to others.

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Tunes – These are some of my favorite Christmas-y jigs. It’s very weird when I hear them played as “Irish jigs” completely out of context, along with things like the Swallowtail. I’d love to learn to play them someday on my tin whistle, but until I can play by ear that’s out.


And there you have it. I like to think I did fairly well. I limited myself to ten songs at most, and I managed to keep it down to eight. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, my all time favorite Christmas album is the Katie McMahon Celtic Christmas – I literally bounced around my room when I saw that it was on youtube (it being one my parents picked up in Scotland I think it was, years and years ago).

I shall leave you with this: CHRISTMAS IS IN FIVE DAYS. I, for one, cannot wait to eat meat again. There’s a midnight service, like on Pascha, and a feast at 2am afterwards and I can’t wait! *bounces*

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs? How do your families celebrate Christmas?


8 thoughts on “Christmas music!

  1. I do adore a good Christmas song, and your list is beautiful. Such unusual taste, I was fascinated. 🙂 My favorite Christmas song is probably “Joy to the World”, because a) I can sing all the words, and b) it is my youngest sister’s favorite song. And when she sings it, it just makes me smile and smile. 🙂

    Found your blog through your comment on mine. Tell me, you actually recognized Cossacks in my story, how do you come to know about the Kazaki? XD Literally, no one except the Russians seem to know about it. XD

    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, being able to sing all the words is a plus. *grins*

      My dad, actually. He told me the only way that he would wear any costume that I made him was if it was traditional, completely authentic Cossack costume. I looked it up, followed a lot of links, and the rest is history. He also shows my little brothers various horse videos and dancing videos on YouTube. Three year old twins attempting to do Cossack dancing to Christmas music in the middle of the kitchen floor is both adorable and very annoying. 😀

      Christ is born!


      1. My goodness that’s hilarious! True story- I have an almost authentic looking Kuban Cossack uniform. I had to substitute the gaziri on the cherkesska with real WWI Mosin bullets, but I think it almost looks cooler that way. XD My goal is to eventually make it look like the authentic Kuban Cossack uniform, which means I’ll have to make stripes on the pants at some point and purchase a papakha. But I think it will be worth it in the future to complete the full uniform. XD And, perhaps eventually, get a real shashka. Did you make a uniform for you dad?

        And your little brothers sound adorable doing the Cossack dance. I was teaching it to my little sister, though I by no means can do it. Can somewhat imitate it. XD If my horse was younger I would want to teach him some of those Cossack riding tricks.

        So glad I found your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh! You listed some of my favourites too!
    The original of On This Day (which the children’s choir at my church did this year) is Latin, and awesome as only a Latin carol can be. Here’s a link to my favourite recording of it:
    I get tired of the common Christmas music almost as soon as the stores start playing it, and I try to keep my sister from turning it on in our house until as close to Christmas as possible. And the older the better, if possible :). The normal ones tend to make Christmas so cheap, and it’s the second highest day of the year.
    Being Protestants, we don’t fast during Advent — in fact the first time I came across that idea was this year doing research on early British Christianity — but the idea is fascinating and beautiful. One of the things Protestants tend not to like about fasting during Lent (and probably the same reason goes for Advent) is that it’s very easy to show off how pious we are by giving up this or that. In past years my father’s said, before Lent, that if we want to give something up that’s all right, just try to do it in such a way that no one else knows what it is. That could extend to Advent as well.
    Now I’m mostly just thinking out loud.
    Oh, and one more thing, this time about the drinking songs. On the same CD as Personent Hodie, there’s a really fun drinking song whose tune sounds, especially at the end, more like a hymn than anything else. And it’s on YouTube too:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The idea, @noliealcarturiel, is that each one fasts according to the guidelines set down by the Church. So if one fasts, he is not giving up foods of his own accord but rather is being obedient to the Church. Of course if someone wants to fast more, what you said about not showing it applies greatly!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucky you. We have the service in the morning at five (which is not bad at all, only this year we moved it to six and, at the insistence of some, to /seven/, so it won’t be very special, but then, time isn’t that important). One of my favourite carols is this: The instrument at the beginning sounds almost like a bagpipe. Maybe I could offer a translation some day. This carol is technically for New Year’s, though. It’s okay, it falls within the Twelve Days. 🙂 As for Christmas, few things could be more beautiful than this:

    We also set a record this year: we set up the nativity the night before Christmas!

    Concerning Santa Claus, my grandfather called him the chicken-thief. In Greek his name is not rendered “Saint Nicholas” (Santa Claus) but “Saint Basil”, which is such a pity, since the real St. Basil was tall and terribly thin, with a long and black beard, and he died before it could whiten.

    Merry Christmas, Brianna! Have a great vigil!


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