10 December 2016

10: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Sometimes, you just can't go wrong with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, even though they sing in English.

I confess a deep and abiding confusion about the English title. Oh Come, All Ye Faithful? O Come? O, Come? Is it O or Oh? Is there a comma?

Who can know these things? In Latin, it is Adeste Fidelis, and I confess a love for the Latin:

Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte
Regem angelorum:
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus, venite adoremus

09 December 2016

9: Rebel Jesus

I asked my sister what her favorite Christmas carol was (and told her that she couldn't pick one that I'd already posted). She said "Oh! Rebel Jesus!" I looked perplexed until she reminded me that it's on the McGarrigle Christmas Hour - and yes, I have that. But because I am very bad at listening to the lyrics, I didn't make the connection between song title and actual song.

It is moving and apposite, and not a little subversive, written by Jackson Browne with a stanza that reads, in part:

Well we guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

This atheist would like to say:
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

08 December 2016

8: Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

And we veer back to the odd: A Toolbox Christmas.

There are a lot of "novelty" records out there. Can one forget Meowy Christmas, by the Jingle Cats? A whole record of cats, meowing out Christmas carols. The Toolbox Christmas is similar-ish - in that the entire contents of someone's wood shop are used as musical instruments. Honestly this is a record that you cannot listen to straight through, but one track once in a while seeded into a holiday playlist is a beautiful thing.

07 December 2016

7: Baby It's Cold Outside

I know.

But Elf. There's that scene where Zooey Deschanel is singing in the shower and Will Ferrell joins in on Baby, It's Cold Outside. It's delightful, and a little creepy, because Ferrell's elf is so socially awkward.

But elsewhere in the movie - or just on the soundtrack? - Deschanel sings it with the divinely anachronistic Leon Redbone. It's the best rendition.

06 December 2016

6: Carol of the Bells

I'm not all and only idiosyncratic. Sometimes you need the classics, like the New York Choral Artists singing the Carol of the Bells. It's just about perfect. Clean, clear, unmannered.

05 December 2016

5: Star of Wonder

The Roches are three sisters, who sang as a mostly a cappella trio. Their Christmas record is mostly delightful (though a few tracks are pretty twee). Their Hallelujah Chorus is fabulous, but the haunting Star of Wonder is today's pick.

If you are given to singing around the fireplace or with a chorus, the sheet music for Star of Wonder is on the Roches website - with a note from Terre Roche who says:

I encourage anyone who would like to sing "Star of Wonder" at Christmas time to do so. I consider myself to be the channel through which this little song came into the world. I don't "own" the song. Nobody does. It belongs to all of us! The thought that people are singing "Star of Wonder" at Christmas time makes me feel great!

04 December 2016

4: All I Want For Christmas

...is you.

Maybe you first encountered All I Want For Christmas when Mariah Carey released it in 1994. Maybe you know it from Love Actually. Or maybe you caught it when Mariah Carey reprised it on Jimmy Fallon with the Roots "on classroom instruments". I succumbed to it when my sister gave me the Puppini Sisters Christmas CD in 2010.