22 December 2008

22nd December

Our church held its carol services yesterday and today, the one chance I get each year to hammer out some good tunes on its organ, which is coming up to its 100th anniversary next year. As well as the traditional numbers, our worship pastor Martin led the band and choir in renditions of 'A Christmas Offering' and a very gospelly 'Joy to the World'.
It's strange to think that so many of the carols that people regard as really traditional have only been popular since the 60s and 70s, when David Willcocks and his team did new arrangements for the 'Carols for Choirs' series, a standard that supplanted all other publications. Universally used by choirs worldwide, the harmonies and descants that we love to hear and sing were almost all created for these books.
People almost get offended when a carol service doesn't include their own favourite. This month the BBC Music Magazine had the results of a poll into choir leaders' favourite carol. The results were:
1. In the Bleak Midwinter
2. In Dulci Jubilo
3. A Spotless Rose
4. Bethlehem Down
5. Lully, Lulla
6. Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day
7. There is No Rose
8. O Come All Ye Faithful
9. Of the Father's Heart Begotten
10. What Sweeter Music
I'm guessing that you couldn't sing at least 5 of these, and indeed the comments page on the BBC website had people like Tim Rogers saying "Christmas without 'Ding dong! merrily on high' is like a game of football without the ball."
So which Christmas carols (or songs) can't you do without? I have to hear Mike Oldfield's In Dulci Jubilo at least once, and Anne Dudley's version of The Holly and the Ivy is something I'm still trying to play on the organ. How about you?

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