December is here (NB it was 'just here' when I started writing this - it's half over now!), so we are allowed to listen to Christmas music! I say 'allowed', but this is a self-imposed rule in our household. We both adore Christmas music and have a large selection of seasonal CDs, but if we start listening too soon (and when we start we have them on every day) we get tired of them before Christmas itself even arrives. So December the 1st it is.
We have had several 'Desert Island Discs' discussions about our favourite Christmas music, and although the list seems to change every time I think about it, I thought it would be fun to post some of my top picks here.
Our CDs are pretty evenly split between the classical and the kitch, and it's pretty hard to compare the two, hence the separate posts.
Here, in no particular order, are my favourite 'classic' Christmas carols. And huge thanks to whoever is responsible for posting King's College, Cambridge, contributions onto youtube - this post would not have been possible without you!
In the Bleak Midwinter - Harold Darke
A beautiful, simple version of this classic carol. I've sung the first verse of this as a solo before now, and I like it because it's nicely in the range of my voice.
Bethlehem Down - Peter Warlock
A little-known modern carol - well, little-known to non-singers I suspect. Hauntingly gorgeous, makes shivers run down my spine every time I hear it.
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day - John Gardner
A beautifully lively and catchy version of this classic carol. I first sang this many years ago with a choir called 'Iscavoces', a group of singing friends from Exeter University. It's been a favourite of mine ever since, even though I haven't sung it for over 10 years now.
Nativity Carol - John Rutter
Many people might say that this carol, indeed anything by John Rutter, should properly belong in the 'kitch' post that will follow this one, but I think Rutter has become a Christmas classic! I can't imagine a Christmas without some Rutter carols. I wanted some other Rutter carols (Shepherd's Pipe Carol, Angel Carol), but many are not available for 'embedding' from you tube, so I've gone with this lovely one instead.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - EH Sears
I must confess to getting a bit tired of singing some of the traditional congregational carols (Once in Royal... yawn!) but this is one I never tire of. The words are just so poetic. They can be found here if you want to remind yourself of them.