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Jurassic Shark

Your Top Five Favorite Traditional Christmas Songs / Carols / Hymns

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I'm not quite sure what you mean by "traditional."  I'd interpret that as meaning hymns, but your list includes "The Christmas Song."

 

Here's my list of my five favorite Christmas hymns in alpha order that I thought about for all of 30 seconds.

 

The First Noel

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

O Holy Night

Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night)

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6 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "traditional."

 

The composer should be long dead or not even known!

 

6 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I'd interpret that as meaning hymns, but your list includes "The Christmas Song."

 

Fixed!

 

6 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

 

Oh yeah, that's a great one. I might exchange Joy to the World with this.

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1. Deck The Halls - Szell & Cleveland

2. The First Noel - Ormandy & Philadelphia

3. We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Gerhardt & National Philharmonic

4. Stille Nacht  - Ormandy & Philadelphia

5. Pójdźmy wszyscy do stajenki - Golec Uorkiestra / or alternatively Przybieżeli do Betlejem or Dzisiaj w Betlejem, played by the same ensemble

 

Honourable mention to The Star of Betlehem. Watching Home Alone is a Christmas tradition after all.

 

 

 

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I've just started listening.

1. Wow, wow, wow. Sounds like a Benny Herrmann christmas album. Bless Stu for this gift. 

2. I'm embarassingly ignorant of Lutosławski's work. I bet I will adore his music.

3. The interpretations seem unorthodox in tempos and pitches. They raise eyebrows sometimes. But maybe that's how they are supposed to be played? I am no musicologist.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, First TROS March Accolyte said:

Sounds like a Benny Herrmann christmas album

 

About that....

 

If you can handle listening to a low quality TV audio recording from the '50s, Herrmann's musical setting of A Christmas Carol is seriously wonderful and under-known.

 

 

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46 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

About that....

If you can handle listening to a low quality TV audio recording from the '50s, Herrmann's musical setting of A Christmas Carol is seriously wonderful and under-known.

Marvelous!

 

It's a great tragedy that Youtube does another lossy compression on-top of the sound users upload. I think I should consider mailing Wrobel and asking him for the videos directly at some point. Not only for personal enjoyment; but also so that someone two generations removed has a separate set of copies.

 

Sometimes I wish I lived in the U.S. and had the cash to travel and visit vaults, doing some study & preservation work on such artifacts from the Golden Age of cinema and radio, and to write an "archeological" book about them. Alas, I doubt I will ever have time for such an escapade :( 

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"Deilig er jorden" might be my alltime favourite (original German title "Schönster Herr Jesu, Herrscher alle Herren").

 

Also:

 

"O Holy Night".

"Star of Bethlehem" (OK, he's not dead, but I had to include it)

"Det lyser i stille grender" (Norwegian)

"En rose er utsprungen" (original German title: "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen")

"White Christmas" (original Bing Crosby version, not the HOME ALONE one)

 

....and many more. Damn, that was SIX, wasn't it?

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, mstrox said:

 

Off the top of my head, I don't even know who composed those songs!

 

That's OK, as long as they're all dead.

 

14 minutes ago, Thor said:

"Deilig er jorden" might be my alltime favourite (original German title "Schönster Herr Jesu, Herrscher alle Herren").

 

Or Fairest Lord Jesus in English. But it has to be with the seemingly optional short change of key towards the end!

 

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Carol of the Bells!

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O holy night — I want to love it, but I just really can’t abide it. I don’t think I have ever heard it performed unpretentiously. It always has some combination of solos, scooping, oohing and aahing, and arpeggios, and the faces on the performers are always very self-conscious, like they’re in pain or just really think they’re adorable. If anyone knows a recording of a nice, unsentimental SATB arrangement a capella or with organ, please help me out.

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7 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

The First Noel

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

 

I'll take these and add Coventry Carol.

 

I'm also really fond of this one:

Arranged by a friend of our choir director and supposedly based on a traditional Christmas song from Tyrol (which I'm unfamiliar with).

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SILENT NIGHT,

SETTING THE TRAP,

IN SEARCH OF ANGELS (Tim Story),

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER,

DOGS IN THE MIDWINTER (Jethro Tull),

OH COME ALL YE FAITHFUL,

SNOWBOUND (Genesis),

SADNESS PT. 1 (Enigma),

OH FATHER (Madonna).

I know that some of these aren't strictly Christmas songs, but they will always remind me of Christmas, no matter what time of year I hear them. To me, that's more important than being "traditional".

 

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1 hour ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

I know that some of these aren't strictly Christmas songs, but they will always remind me of Christmas, no matter what time of year I hear them. To me, that's more important than being "traditional".

 

Also, most of the composers are still alive.

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2 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

How dare they!

"Which part of "all dead" is unclear to you?"---asked Steven Sp., looking inside the trunk of his car.

<A couple of mumbles sounded from under the gags.>

"What do you think about those fish, Johnny?"---he turned to a menacing character standing next to him.

John Towner Williams, alias "Johnny" simply exhaled a cigar smoke at the victims, and grinned maliciously.

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Here's a really fun arrangement, it's a medley of Christmas tunes re-arranged in a minor key.  Recommended for Elfman fans (but not just Elfman fans)!

 

 

It manages to go through all the below in 6 minutes, some are given extended treatment, some are just passing references.

 

Deck the Halls

Up on the Housetop (in Klezmer style!)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (sounds like German cabaret music to me)

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

Here Comes Santa Claus (oom pah!)

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Silver Bells

Jingle Bells (with a dash of Chim Chim Cher-ee!)

Rudolph

Sleigh Ride

Do You What I Hear?

Here We Come a-Wassailing

Russian Dance from The Nutcracker

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On 12/3/2019 at 8:45 PM, Pellaeon said:

O holy night — I want to love it, but I just really can’t abide it. I don’t think I have ever heard it performed unpretentiously. It always has some combination of solos, scooping, oohing and aahing, and arpeggios, and the faces on the performers are always very self-conscious, like they’re in pain or just really think they’re adorable. If anyone knows a recording of a nice, unsentimental SATB arrangement a capella or with organ, please help me out.

 

On 12/3/2019 at 9:20 PM, Jurassic Shark said:

There's only one worthy recording - Jussi Björling's.

 

 

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I won't abide anything bad said about Williams' recording for Home Alone.  It's simple and unadorned and beautiful.

 

Gotta say, I didn't enjoy that Bjorling recording.  Blubbering overblown opera tenors are the worst.

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9 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I won't abide anything bad said about Williams' recording for Home Alone.  It's simple and unadorned and beautiful.

 

I don't think anybody has said anything bad about HA here.

 

9 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

Gotta say, I didn't enjoy that Bjorling recording.  Blubbering overblown opera tenors are the worst.

 

Funny, coming from an American, masters of the overblown. ;)

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25 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

I don't think anybody has said anything bad about HA here.

 

It was implied!

 

26 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Funny, coming from an American, masters of the overblown. ;)

 

You enjoy Wagner, do not dare talk to me about overblown nonsense.

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7 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

It was implied!

 

Where?

 

7 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

You enjoy Wagner, do not dare talk to me about overblown nonsense.

 

There's a difference between feeling and overblown. Wagner was certainly the latter, both as a person and in his music, but not Björling in O Helga Natt.

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1 minute ago, Disco Stu said:

The "proper" way is a church congregation singing it together.  It's a hymn, not an aria.

 

It's true that a choral version (a harmonized choral version, not a church congregation) is the second best way to hear that song, but the best is to have a singer of Björling's caliber provide showmanship in the difficult parts, while at the same keeping it lean and focussed. Björling's version is the benchmark that everything else is measured after.

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O Holy Night

Silent Night

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The First Noel

The Holly and The Ivy

On 12/3/2019 at 1:45 PM, Pellaeon said:

O holy night — I want to love it, but I just really can’t abide it. I don’t think I have ever heard it performed unpretentiously. It always has some combination of solos, scooping, oohing and aahing, and arpeggios, and the faces on the performers are always very self-conscious, like they’re in pain or just really think they’re adorable. If anyone knows a recording of a nice, unsentimental SATB arrangement a capella or with organ, please help me out.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

the best is to have a singer of Björling's caliber provide showmanship in the difficult parts, while at the same keeping it lean and focussed. Björling's version is the benchmark that everything else is measured after.

 

Eloquently said!

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On 12/3/2019 at 4:11 PM, Marian Schedenig said:

I'll take these and add Coventry Carol.

 

In case you're not familiar, Leroy Anderson, that King of Christmas Arrangements, has a lovely arrangement of the Coventry Carol for just the woodwind section of the orchestra.

 

 

 

(and an alternate recording if the above, which is the one I own, is region-locked)

 

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6 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

A Ceremony of Carols is one of Britten's greatest works for sure.  For the Christmas season, I also enjoy his A Boy Was Born, a pretty early composition that shows his distinct, quirky approach to composing for voices was in place even at 19 years old.

 

I was going to mention that in response to Pub's post. We did it for our Christmas concert last year (though we sadly had to leave out the first half of the finale - that would have taken us another few weeks of rehearsals). Hardest piece we ever did, but impressive. Variation 5 (In the Bleak Midwinter) is perhaps my favourite part (and the men in the choir don't even sing it). It's amazing how perfectly it captures the icy chill of winter and the image of falling snow.

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My Top 5 is We Three Kings I guess, published 1857.

 

 

We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
 
Oh, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us with thy perfect light.

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