Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What's in a Christmas Carol?

In 2005 Songs of Praise listed the following as the nations favourite Christmas carols:

Once in Royal David's City
Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander was a country schoolmistress. She wrote the carol to help her pupils understand the mystery of the birth of Jesus and her intenion was that it would not just be a Christmas Song but be used throughtout the year. It was put together with Henry Gauntlett's simple tune Irby and has become exactly what she didn't want a Christmas Carol.

O Come All ye Faithful
The original version was written in Latin and is commonly attributed to John Francis Wade, and is thought to have been written around about 1743. It was translated into the more familiar English version a century later by Frederick Oakeley and William Thomas Brooke.

Calypso Carol
Was written by Canon Michael Perry whilst he was a student at Oak Hill Theological College.

See Amid the Winter's Snow
This carol is one of my favourites though I don't think itwoudl have been amid snow that Jesus was born, it was written by Edward Caswall in 1858. The music Humility was written by John Goss in 1871.

O Holy Night
This carol began life as the French poem Minuit, chr├ętiens written by Placide Cappeau in 1847. It was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight. The music was composed by Adolphe-Charles Adam, who also wrote the ballet Giselle.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
This carol was originally a poem, written in 1849 by Edmund Hamilton Sears, a Unitarian parish minister and author. The music was composd by American musician Richard Storrs Willis in 1850.

O Little Town of Bethlehem
The words were written by an American clergyman called Philips Brooks in 1868 following a visit to Bethlehem. His organist, Lewis Redner, wrote a tune for it which is still used in the United States. In the UK, Forest Green, which was adapted by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, is used instead.

In the Bleak Mid-winter
Christina Rossetti originally wrote this carol as a Christmas poem. The tune most often associated with In the Bleak Midwinter is Cranham, composed by Gustav Holst, but it has also been put to music by organist Harold Edwin Darke.

Silent Night
Silent Night is one of the world's most popular Christmas carols. The original lyrics of Stille Nicht were written by Father Joseph Mohr, in 1859 the English translation was published.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Charles Wesley wrote this carol in 1739. We sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing to a famous tune by Felix Mendelssohn, written in 1840.

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