*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?