Christmas Music Memories

[Copied from first blog. Originally posted on December 5, 2011.]

When I was in first grade, I remember the Methodist and Presbyterian kids got together in church for something. I don’t remember any of the details, except one. We sang my favorite Christmas song, Away in a Manger – but it wasn’t the right tune! How disappointing. I blamed the Presbyterians. And to this day, in my mind, the Kirkpatrick tune is the Presbyterian tune, and the Murray tune is the right one.

In fourth grade music class, we learned to sing some new Christmas carols that we all had heard on the radio, but we hadn’t sung them before because they weren’t in the church hymnals. Everyone’s favorite was O Holy Night. We had music class once a week, and every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas someone asked if we could sing O Holy Night. The first music class after Christmas vacation, my friend Dennis requested that song again. There was an immediate uprising in the class. You aren’t supposed to sing Christmas songs after Christmas! And we didn’t. That’s when I learned the absolute rules of the secular Christmas season. Fortunately, not all churches follow those rules. And, at home now, I let myself play Christmas music throughout the twelve days of Christmas, sometimes even a little longer.

I started thinking about all those memories when I started to compile a songbook for us to use next Sunday afternoon [December 11, 2011] for the Whispering Winds Christmas Carol Sing. I decided to include a mix of Advent Carols, Christmas Carols, and a few secular Christmas songs. I wanted to limit myself to about 50 songs in total – not that we’ll sing all 50, but I wanted to provide a nice selection to choose from. It amazed me how hard it is to limit myself to 50. The flyers that have been posted to announce the sing-along say, “Sing all your favorites.” I guess they should really say, “Sing all Marian’s favorites,” because that’s what will be in the songbook. But even that’s not true, because I couldn’t include all my favorites without doubling the size of the songbook.

Songs in the ADVENT section of the songbook range from O Come, O Come, Emmanuel from medieval times to Emmanuel, the contemporary praise song. The lively Soon and Very Soon is included. One of the newest songs is Like a Child – the lovely song that Mim sang in our church the first Sunday of Advent. No one will probably choose that song to sing on Sunday afternoon, because not many people know it, but it has become one of my top favorites – so it’s in the book.

The CHRISTMAS CAROL section of the songbook includes 26 old favorites, including both versions of Away in a Manger (just in case any Presbyterians come to the Sing-along). Some of the other titles are:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joy to the World
The First Noel,
Angels We Have Heard on High
It Came upon the Midnight Clear
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
What Child is This
Silent Night
O Holy Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Still, Still, Still
There’s a Song in the Air
The Birthday of a King
I Wonder as I Wander

…I wish I had space to list all 26 songs here. If you’re like me, as you read each title, the tune of that song starts playing in your mind, and you smile as you think about the song itself – or about some associations you have with the song. Think about Silent Night. Do you hear the tune? Do you remember all the words? What memories come to mind? Are you smiling?

Just for fun, I decided to include a few secular Christmas songs in the book:

Over the River and through the Woods
Frosty the Snowman
Jingle Bells
White Christmas

… I did NOT include Santa Baby or any of the other songs that I don’t like that seem to always be on the radio.

Hope you can join us Sunday afternoon, December 11, starting at 2:00. I could have used today’s blog to write about all the Christmas cookies we’ll bake this week for all of us to eat after singing up an appetite – sugar cookies, krumkake, berliner kranse, coffee cookies, date balls, spritz, pecan lady fingers, candy cane cookies, peppermint chocolate chip cookies, mocha double chocolate cookies – but I wanted to whet your appetite for singing first. (It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, and it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, too!)

3 comments (0 new) | Add a New Comment
1. Nancy K. | December 05, 2011 at 04:34 PM EST [ delete ]

What a blessing that day will be too! I hope our voices hold out, because the songs mentioned here are awsome!

Christmas Peace!

2. Judy p | December 07, 2011 at 02:23 PM EST [ delete ]

I would like to have you play the 2 tunes ,Away in a Manger so I can hear the difference………also hope that Mim will have her voice back to be able to sing Like a Child for us.

Looking forward to coming and will bring my friend Don….he will love this also………thank you..

3. Marian | December 08, 2011 at 10:35 AM EST [ delete ]

Glad you and Don will be joining us on Sunday. I’ll be happy to play both tunes to \”Away in a Manger.\” I’ve asked Mim to save her voice for Sunday. I hope she can sing some descants on top of our carols. We’ll see…

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