Archive for the ‘Christmas Music’ Category

Jesus Ruins Christmas!!

December 13, 2010

Another great song from my favorite, David Wilcox: Jesus Ruins Christmas!

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 24, 2009

Here’s a fun little video featuring voice over actors and celebrities reading the classic Christmas story, The Night Before Christmas with a few fun little twists here and there.  Among the many voices are Jim Cummings (who replaced Sterling Holloway as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, and later took over as the voice of Tigger following Paul Winchell’s retirement), Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), radio & TV personality Gary Owens, and voiceover master Don LaFontaine (you’ll recognize him when you hear him).  For fun, try listening to it without watching.

For younger children who are less familiar with the story, start with this version which is a faithful retelling of the original poem by Clement C. Moore with some nicely done animation and a brief introduction.  The entire story is narrated by two moms who dedicate the video to their children.

Notes about the Author and the Poem

Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, which he named "A Visit From St. Nicholas," was published for the first time on December 23, 1823 by a New York newspaper, the Sentinel.  Since then, the poem has been reprinted, translated into innumerable languages and circulated throughout the world. 

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) was born into a well-known New York family.  His father, Reverend Benjamin Moore, was president of (what is now) Columbia University and was the Episcopal Bishop of New York.  Moore’s father also officiated at the inauguration of George Washington’s first inauguration and gave last rites to Alexander Hamilton after Hamilton was mortally wounded in his 1804 duel with Aaron Burr.  Clement C. Moore himself was an author, a noted Hebrew scholar, spoke five languages, and was an early real-estate owner and developer in Manhattan.

Despite his accomplishments, Clement C. Moore is remembered only for "’Twas the Night Before Christmas," which legend says he wrote on Christmas Eve in 1822 during a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village after buying a turkey for his family.  Some say the inspiration for Moore’s pot-bellied St. Nicholas was the chubby, bewhiskered Dutchman who drove Moore to Greenwich Village to buy his holiday turkey.

Moore read the poem to his wife and six children the night he wrote it, and supposedly thought no more about it.  But it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel which published the poem.  The condition of publication was that the author was to remain anonymous.  Moore’s poem immediately caught the attention and imagination of the state, then the nation, and then the world.  Moore never copyrighted his poem, and only claimed as his own in 1844 when he included it in a book of his poetry.

Because of his "mere trifle," as he called it, 187 years ago Clement C. Moore almost single-handedly defined our now timeless image of Santa Claus.  Prior to the creation of the story St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!  The tradition of reading the poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution.

Moore’s eight reindeer names refer to their individual character, mission, or magical flying prowess:

  • · Dasher (hurls or thrusts with great force)

  • · Dancer (moves with skill, grace, rhythm)

  • · Prancer (springs forward on hind legs, struts with spirit and confidence)

  • · Vixen (alert and fiercely protective, guards against all possible dangers)

  • · Comet (a powerful and fiery rock hurtling through the heavens, a celestial wonder)

  • · Cupid (symbolic of love, referring to just how admirable Santa’s mission is to remind the world each year of the joy and Love Christmas brings)

  • · Donner (or Donder) and Blitzen evolved from the original Dutch words “Dunder” (thunder) and “Blixem” (lightning)

Rudolph was later revealed as the ninth reindeer in Santa’s stable in Robert L. May’s 1939 booklet for Montgomery Ward Department Stores. May’s booklet was adapted by Johnny Marks into a song by the same name made famous in 1949 by Gene Autry. The tale tells of Santa’s lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light, powerful enough to illuminate the team’s path through even the most inclement weather.

Children ‘round the world can rest assured that together, these famous reindeer eagerly exercise their God-given talents to guarantee Santa’s arrival to all points on the globe each and every Christmas Eve.

Notes: 

  • Some scholars now believe the poem was actually written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.  Whatever the authorship controversy ultimately determines, this work has become a Christmas favorite.
  • What is a "courser?"  A swift horse; a charger. 
  • Sash – A frame in which the panes of a window or door are set.

Christmas Carousel by Peggy Lee

December 4, 2009

One of my favorite memories of Christmas from childhood was being with my mom as she carefully decorated the house while playing Peggy Lee’s classic Christmas album, The Christmas Carousel (Capitol Records, October 1960).  The album consisted of the following songs:

  • I Like a Sleighride (Jingle Bells)
  • The Christmas Song
  • Don’t Forget to Feed the Reindeer
  • The Star Carol
  • The Christmas List
  • Christmas Carousel
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  • The Christmas Waltz
  • The Christmas Riddle
  • The Tree
  • Deck the Halls
  • White Christmas

The 2006 release of Christmas with Peggy Lee is a fine collection of favorites showcasing her distinct mellow jazz sound.  The majority of the tracks were taken from her Christmas Carousel album, including all but these three: "The Christmas List," "Christmas Riddle," and "Deck the Halls."  A Songwriters-Hall-of-Famer, Lee composed, "Christmas Carousel," "Don’t Forget to Feed the Reindeer," "The Tree," and "My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)."  All make for wonderful background music for any Christmas gathering.

Listen to the title cut posted by verycoolsound on YouTube.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

December 23, 2008

I was fully prepared not to enjoy this performance as I tuned in just in time to hear Dr. Phil introduce Casting Crowns on the Christmas In Washington special on TNT the other night…not because I don’t like Casting Crowns, but because that’s my favorite Christmas Carol and I wasn’t eager to hear it modernized.  Although it’s not very Christmas-sounding (except when the choir is singing), I have to admit that I was blown away by their interpretation of this song.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

According to TNT’s interview with Mark Hall:

The poetic lyrics penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow document how hope emerged from a crisis of faith the writer experienced after he lost his wife in a house fire and soon saw his son crippled in the Civil War.

“He wrote about how every year when these Christmas bells ring, it reminds him that there’s peace on earth, good will toward men,” explains Hall.  “But this time around, the reality of the world he lives in at that moment rushes in.  The verses change, and suddenly he’s saying, ‘But there is no peace.  There’s war, and there’s hate.  And this hate mocks the song of the bells.’  He’s working through his understanding of Christmas.  And as the bells keep ringing, he just has this moment when he realizes God is not dead, nor does He sleep.  Good will prevail.  God is going to save the day.”  The timelessness of the song’s potent hope-filled message is glaring to Hall—especially in light of today’s world events.  “This generation needs to hear this song,” he says.  “My kids need to hear this song.”

In a creative musical twist, Hall decided the carol’s song of the bells should actually be sung by the bells.  Thus a boys choir personifies the bells and hypnotically sings the “peace on earth” refrain.  “The bells remind us of hope,” he explains.  “And when you hear a child sing, it’s the same thing.  It reminds us today might be dark, but this is what tomorrow sounds like.”  As a resulting irony, there are no literal bells used in Hall & Co.’s version of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Here is Longfellow’s original poem written in 1864, entitled Christmas Bells:

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
        “For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This poem was written during the American civil war (1861-1865), as reflected by the sense of despair in stanzas 4 and 5 which speak of the battle.  It was first set to music in 1872, but the score for the contemporary version first sung by Bing Crosby was written in the 1950’s by Johnny Marks.  Marks was a Jewish American songwriter whose specialty was Christmas songs, including: Holly Jolly Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and many others.  Most hymnals omit stanzas 4 and 5.

 

Celebrate Christmas with Claymation

December 16, 2008

After yesterday’s post, I did some hunting around and found Will Vinton’s 1987 A Claymation Christmas Celebration:

This wonderful Christmas TV special won the Primetime Emmy Award in 1988 for Outstanding Animated Program, and it was an annual favorite in our home each Christmas. 

The show is an entertaining collection of Claymation skits set to traditional favorite Christmas carols.  Herb (as in herbivore) and Rex (as in Tyrannosaurus Rex) are the hosts.  The short attention-span Herb is driven by the sole concern for indulging his appetites, while the buttoned-down Rex is more preoccupied with the more intellectual pursuit of introducing viewers to the background of each song.  The running joke between songs consists of variations on what Herb thinks “wassail” is.

Running time is just short of 24 minutes.

‘Carol of the Bells’ Celtic Women & Claymation

December 15, 2008

Here’s a welcome addition to my post on ‘Carol of the Bells’ Audio Files.  It’s a video performance of the Celtic Women singing the Carol of the Bells.

It’s an excellent example of a very traditional version of the song, with a little Celtic twist added to it.  It also shows the lyrics in the subtitles.

I just have to add this one…it was a family favorite in our house until our VCR broke 3 years ago:

You’ll love it as much as your kids will, I’m sure!

ASCAP’s Top 25 "Holiday" Songs

December 12, 2008

Well, folks…”the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) — the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing over 330,000 music creators and copyright owners…announced its Top 25 most performed holiday songs for the past five years…”  And, wadda ya know?  All 25 of them are…Christmas songs!  I, for one, am shocked!

Based on ASCAP’s politically-correct press release, we can anticipate they (or some other liberal organization whose name begins with the letters ACLU) might soon seek to impose faith-based preferences on radio stations to ensure that lesser-known holidays get their fair quota of airplay.

Of course, since these other holidays haven’t inspired anywhere near the same volume of songwriting over the centuries, they’ll have to rely on that old time-honored tradition of the Left – abscond with reality and replace it with a cheap imitation in the attempt to manipulate people into accepting their liberal philosophy.  So don’t say I didn’t warn you if one of these days you tune-in to your favorite radio station at Christmastime and hear:

  • “Away in a manger, no crib for His bed, the little Lord Mahavira lay down His sweet head…” 
  • Or, “You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. I’m telling you why…Abu al Aid is coming to town…”
  • Or, “I’m dreaming of a white solstice…”

I sent this email off to ASCAP:

wwwascapcom_p_800

Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 6:00 PM

To: kreynolds@cooperkatz.com

Dear Kathleen Reynolds,

I publish a blog called Where’s Christmas? which highlights and exposes politically-correct euphemistic references to, and attacks on Christmas.

I read ASCAP’s 11-24-08 press release entitled “ASCAP UNWRAPS TOP 25 HOLIDAY SONGS” and couldn’t help but notice that it never uses the word “Christmas”, but uses the words “Holiday(s)” or “seasonal” twelve times in describing the 25 songs on your list and Christmas.

Of the 25 songs listed, 10 include the word “Christmas” in their titles.  While the remaining 15 songs don’t contain the word “Christmas” in their titles they are all, nevertheless, written and performed for the celebration of Christmas.

It’s hard to imagine that ASCAP’s decision to ignore Christmas is anything other than a deliberate effort to ignore the very event that prompts such a press release – the joyful celebration of Christmas.  Please explain why ASCAP has decided to completely eliminate the word “Christmas” from its vocabulary.  Has the Grinch taken-over control at ASCAP?

I will be happy to post your response on my blog.

Merry Christmas!

Todd Roper

I’ll post their response as soon as I receive it.  Feel free to express your opinion to Kathleen Reynolds.

I wonder how far down the list you would have to go before you got to a non-Christmas “Holiday” song?  Other than Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song, I can’t think of any possible candidates.

‘Carol of the Bells’ Audio Files

December 11, 2007

Two comments have posted at been posted at my YouTube account inquiring about how to obtain a copy of the “Carol of the Bells” audio file from the Wal-Mart commercial.

Since that version was produced especially for the commercial, there’s no way to obtain a copy short of Wal-Mart releasing a Christmas CD of their own.  However, here are three full-length versions of “Carol of the Bells” I’ve been able to locate (in no particular order):

I also found an excellent version by Leonard Bernstein, but the sound quality was so poor that I didn’t bother posting it here.

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Offering

December 4, 2007

Here’s an up and coming Christian group: Offering, featuring the vocal talents of Jeanine Guidry.  They recorded a Christmas CD called Comfort and Joy, and you can hear samples of it here.

Offering has an extensive performance schedule this Christmas, including lots of community-oriented events:

This coming Friday (12-7-07) they perform at Fort Lee military base in VA.  They raised enough funds to do a special printing of their Christmas CD to give to each soldier in attendance.

They’re doing the same at their local Veteran’s Hospital a week later, and they’re also playing at the Hospital Hospitality House in Richmond.

On top of that, they’re organizing several toy drives!

Show your support for this talented and generous ministry.  Take a moment to click over to their site and buy a CD or two for Christmas gifts!

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Carols from Kings at Christmas

November 28, 2007

You absolutely must see this!

Click over to CantorisDecani‘s site for several wonderful Christmas choral videos he’s put up by English Cathedral and Collegiate Choirs.  Be sure to watch Coventry Carol and Dancing Day, both of these are sung by The Choir of King’s College Cambridge.

Our friend at Music is Groovy posts the lyrics to Coventry Carol along with a brief history of the song.

I’ll try to track down as many of these CD’s as I can find and put them on my Where’s Christmas? online store.