Monday 19 December 2011

Go with the seasonal flow

I love good writing, I love good music, I'm an agnostic. What better combination then to get me to blog about Christmas carols! Much as I'll go to a church if it's important enough to a friend (usually wedding or funeral) and I'll stand, sit and kneel with the crowd, so I'll sing carols.

Yes, I'll warble on about the Christ child, the saviour of the world, or about undersized donkeys and drummer boys, or even shepherds washing their socks by night. I'll even do it with pleasure if I'm in the right company, which doesn't necessarily mean a bunch who've consumed three gallons of egg nog. I don't know if the warm, fuzzy glow comes from a religous upbringing or if it's concussion where an old girl in Debenham's beat me to the ground for fear that I might be after the last pair of pink and gold slippers. (I wasn't, honestly.)

I have blogged on my fascination with words, their meanings and derivations (see Five favourite books for a desert island). I've blogged with pleasure and pain on common English errors for bloggers. I've contemplated campaigning for the death penalty for anyone who writes "your's". Now, in the same exploring spirit I spent some time looking at where various carols come from and how they've changed over the years.

I'm not alone in wondering about carols. Whilst researching best traditional Christmas carols I came across a veritable litany of the great and good of the music world. And Westlife. Elvis, David Bowie guesting on Bing Crosby's Xmas show (Little Drummer Boy, in case you were wondering, as a duet). Annie Lennox, dozens of squeaky little redneck christian moppets, James Taylor, and my favourite - Richie Blackmore - from Deep Purple to Blackmore's Night doing I Saw Three Ships.

Beware though, every plump nobody who's been on "I'm X-list, get me out of this jungle before I have to take my top off again" has released an album of Christmas songs. They all "interpret" - meaning warble occasionally because that's what real singers do, and none of them can reach the high notes on Gloria. (They try, dear god they try, but stepladders and helium wouldn't help most of them.)

So, if you're expecting a family singsong this year, visit best traditional Christmas carols - there's even a free e-book of lyrics so you have no excuse on verse 2 of O Come All Ye Faithful.


Intro pic by be_dazzled: Gaudi - Sagrada Familia stained glass windows Cards


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