What’s your favorite Christmas music?

Quite a few of our most beloved and familiar Christmas carols have roots in the baroque era or even before. Many of them started as popular secular music such as dances, folk songs, or even drinking songs, with festive words added to go with the holiday theme. One of my favorites is Branle de l’Official from Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesographie. It’s a dance tune from the 1580s, but you probably know it better as the lively Christmas carol Ding Dong! Merrily on High. In 1924 George Ratcliffe Woodward wrote the familiar words to go with the ancient dance melody. Do you have any favorite Christmas music? Maybe you even sing in a choir and have some hands-on experience guiding your choice of favorites. I’d love to know what music (baroque or otherwise) helps makes Christmas special for you and your family.

2 comments on “What’s your favorite Christmas music?

  1. Peter D. Marshall on

    Oh, I love so many different kinds of Christmas music. You should see my collection. It’s way more than any one person ought to have! As a lover of mostly classical and jazz, my collection leans heavily to those. But I do have some other folk and pop Christmas albums too.

    One of my favorite pieces is “Joy to the World” as arranged by John Rutter in the style of Handel. It sounds as if it could have been lifted from Messiah.

    I’m also very fond of a song called “Sweet Bells” as performed by Kate Rusby; an easy search on youtube will get you to it. It’s based upon “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” but it’s a Yorkshire take on it.

    I also love “Coventry Carol” in many different performances and arrangements.

    And Garrison Keillor wrote some splendid lyrics to “In The Bleak Midwinter” that I like better than the original. (I prefer Holst’s melody; can’t stand Darke’s.)

    There’s a fascinating expanded version of Rudolph that was performed on the Fibber McGee and Molly program in 1949 that is way better than the simple version we all know.

    And speaking of John Rutter, he’s written quite a few originals that I love as well, too numerous to mention here.

    I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you!


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