Friday, December 22, 2006

Caroling, caroling

Some finds on Christmas carols today:

Here and here are two "rephrased carols" quizzes. Well-known carol titles have been reworded into high-flown lingo: decipher the ordinary titles. An example (which I've seen on similar quizzes but don't think appears in either of these:)
Tintinnabulate Carillons?
Why, Jingle Bells, of course!

Having gotten a bit jaded after sitting in Christmas shopping traffic with the car radio tuned to one of the local Christian stations (I like the music, but did every single contemporary Christian artist in the business really have to record O Holy Night on this year's Christmas album?) I decided to look up some lesser-known carols. The list below barely scratches the surface, and interestingly enough, just about all of these tunes have been recorded commercially at some time or another. It's a start; perhaps someone else out there has other favorites to add.

Some include MIDIs or tabs, so if you've just about had enough of "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by now, you can make your own music!

Now if some major artist would only turn out a collection of Child Ballads (see the Wikipedia article on the Cherry Tree Carol below) or some Spanish Villancicos, or other Christmas music not commonly performed commercially in the U.S., that would be something!

I've always loved the Huron Carol, and was thrilled when we got an arrangement for it at bell choir (and not just because the strong steady beat makes it playable even with my limited skills!) The following sites have historical material, lyrics in Huron and English, and in some cases, MIDIs:
one,
another,
still another, and
Wikipedia article-Huron Carol

I Wonder as I Wander is based on an Appalachian spiritual. It was rescued from obscurity and probable oblivion by one of those folklore collectors who wandered the hill country in the 1930's:
lyrics & history of the carol

Here, here, here, here, and here are a number of versions of the Cherry Tree Carol (including Peter, Paul and Mary's lyrics) and some historical material.
This last has a tab, although I'm not certain of the tune.
Marty Haugen has recorded a lovely arrangement of this set to a 19thC American folk tune. D spent some time working it out for guitar this evening. You'll have to buy the sheet music; we're not gonna risk getting in trouble with GIA by posting the tab!
Emmylou Harris recorded a version on a Christmas album of hers; unfortunately the tab to it was one of only a few songs on the album that I couldn't find.

Here, here, or here are the lyrics to the African-American spiritual Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow; the first two sites include MIDIs so you can learn the tune. From my web search, I learned that Vanessa Williams is one of the artists who has recorded this song. It also makes a nice choral piece.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Rambling Speech said...

I heard Dominick the Christmas Donkey for the first time the other day. I have to say, after hearing it twice I think it's quite the clever little tune. Something about raindeer not being able to make it up the hills in Italy so Santa hooks up a donkey to do the job. ???

My favorite this year is Sarah's Wintersong album. She's got a sweet voice for carols. But it is mainly mainstream music- it would be nice if the stations picked up some less mainstream Christmas fare this year...

Missed being part of the musical side of the mass this year. St. T's choir is far superior to the one at St. Peter's in columbia!

9:45 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

They sounded good at St. T's, this year--perhaps I should have added "Whisper, whisper" to the list as they like to use it during Communion.

I hadn't heard of Dominick before. We've been over some of those Tuscan hills and I'd rather have a donkey for them than a reindeer, too.

Before your time, there used to be a cartoon special about "Nestor, the Christmas Donkey"--but he carried Mary to Bethlehem.

4:50 PM  

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