An article about all the great songs and carols connected with this time of year known as Christmas which like our trees help to make this time of year bright. Along with the performers who through their talent and voice have brought life to those carols and songs most of us have known so well through out our lives as they make us feel that Christmas time is upon us.
It is without much room for doubt, safe to say that no other holiday (religious or secular), or day of the year or time of which has so much in the way of music dedicated to it; as does Christmas. This in a tradition that goes back through the centuries as far as the middle ages. However it was during the years of the reformation that a lot of the music connected to Christmas was banned as was the celebrating of Christmas itself. This being caused by the believe of those who stuck firm to the notion that since Christmas was not mentioned in the bible; it ought not to be celebrated; as doing so would be an act of sin. With time however Christmas celebrating was brought back as was the music connected to it which in the last 100 years has become connected more with carols and songs then with the church orchestral music which those of centuries prior used to associate this time of year with.
Christmas music now a days can be for the most part divided in to two categories; they being carols and songs, with carols concentrating on the religious side of Christmas and all that has to do with the birth of Christ, such as the virgin Mary, the town of Bethlehem, angels and the star which guided the three wise men to the place of Jesus’ birth. Carols include such numbers as “Oh, Come O’ Ye Faithful” “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night” which as stated in this paragraph capture the essence of what in fact is being celebrated and that being the birth of Christ. It is songs like these that make for a quit evening at home, perhaps around a fireplace, if one happens to have one though I am reminded of my youth in New York.
This being not because I had a fireplace but because it was in New York that channel 11 would play Christmas music exclusively from 9 pm till midnight of the 24th of December. All the time showing nothing on the screen but a fireplace with one burning log. I guess channel 11, figured most people would be limiting themselves to listening to the music and not watching what was on the screen. It however seemed strange to me that after watching the log burning for sometime; I started to get a feeling of warmth which no doubt must have been created by my mind as it is highly doubtful that the TV set would have radiated more heat because of this image.
As for Christmas Carols; I would also say they offer relaxation from the hustle and bustle that is the Christmas season. All of which includes the need to plan how we will spend this day along with the shopping done; in more often then not crowed stores, as we look for bargains or that perfect gift for that certain someone. It is from this that we can come home to a lovely melody of the season which for us older folks would be accompanied by a cup of coffee with brandy while the younger ones may enjoy a cup of hot chocolate which would not be just right without those marshmallows.
Where carols focus on the religious side of Christmas, songs do so on all the rest that is connected to this time of year, which includes the commercial angles of shopping and decorations plus the sentimental side of Christmas that makes people come together. As some examples of Christmas songs one could mention “White Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. It is songs such as these that have contributed perhaps even more then carols to Christmas being so vastly celebrated through out the world. As in an age when people are turning away from believe in God, they may find something in songs that put emphases on simply having a good time or being together in sharing our love of humanity.
Christmas songs can also be very good for bringing out the joy of giving presents or receiving them as well as being close to one’s loved ones; weather they be our children or parents or just that special romantic relationship; one may be involved in at the time of Christmas. As these songs remind people of the simple way two people can share this time of year. In a way where little other then each other’s society is required. Songs like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” or “I’ll Be Home For Christmas or “Blue Christmas” are the ones I have in mind when it comes to expressing such ideas. As for myself, I have always enjoyed listening to such songs with my wife in a romantic setting where our tree of the season is never out of sight.
When it comes to Christmas songs, “Jingle Bells” is arguably the most popular of all and yet strangely enough the lyrics of this song have almost nothing to do with Christmas as they do not even mention it by name for that matter. “Jingle Bells” actually was not originally released as a Christmas song but a pop song about winter which for the reason that most countries in the north celebrate this time of year during their cold months has come to be considered as a Christmas song. It in my opinion is a nice little piece which most children through out the world have heard and though it has no real connection with Christmas it is always a lot of fun and has even been covered by “The Three Tenors” on their Christmas Album of 2000. “Jingle Bells” however is not the only song to become popular during Christmas simply because it makes reference to the snow and cold to be found in most of the northern countries as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or “Let It Snow” or “Winter Wonderland” do likewise whilst also failing to use the words Christmas or even Santa Claus. As for myself, I particularly like the song “Sleigh Ride” and its merry melody which also does not say anything about Christmas but gives the listener plenty to be merry about. This song can also be found on the Christmas album by “The Three Tenors”.
Another variety of Christmas song which has become popular is those which are basically of little difference from romantic songs other then they tell of a romance during Christmas time. “Last Christmas” by the pop group “Wham” perhaps is a perfect example of how such feelings are not being kept out of this kind music which tries to cater to feelings that might arise during this most special time of the year. So, lovers need not feel excluded as there are many such songs to fill the hearts of those who really care little for anything that concerns this season; save being with the one they love above all else in a romantic way. As for my taste when it comes to such romantic Christmas songs, it leans toward the ones recorded so many years ago by those now legendary performers, like Dean Martin (real name Dino Crocetti and who incidentally died on December 25, 1995), Doris Day, Bing Crosby and who could forget Frank Sinatra, “the voice”. It is these singers that have been played on my stereo many a time during Christmas; as there is something in their renditions of songs like “A Winter Romance”, “I’ve Got My Baby To Keep Me Warm” and some of the ones already mentioned that in my opinion truly brings out the romance that some of us now associate with this time of year.
Christmas perhaps most of all is enjoyed by children as to them everything is new and the presents they get are of most importance to them then anybody else and it is for them that some songs have been specially written. For instance “Frosty, The Snowman”, ( not really a Christmas song, as it does not mention it) truly captures the spirit of this time of year in the countries of cold with its happy melody reminding all, specially the young that they need not fuss with school and may go out and build all their imagination and snow will allow them to.
Of course, there are a variety of songs for this time of year; some of which are simply about Christmas partying such as Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” or Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody”. It is songs like this and several others which for the most part are nice songs to even dance to in a party setting with drinks and general good cheer. However in this that be music of the season, John Lennon also contributed a song called “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” which undoubtedly captures the ideas of this time of year while throwing a bit of a political view as it makes reference to American participation in what become known as the Vietnam War. This song however in spite of its politics and reference to a war which has been over for over 30 years is still popular and was even covered twice by my idol, Placido Domingo. First with Sarah Brightman and then with his fellow tenors, Carreras and Pavarotti.
Christmas songs however come from all over the world and many times some of the songs we believe to be from our country; turn out to be from overseas and were translated in to our language. For instance “Silent Night” (composed by Mohr and Gruber) comes to us from Austria and because of this we can imagine that it was originally written in German; as is the case. France for instance has given us “Oh, Holly Night” while Spain is not without classics of its own such as “Ay, Para Navidad”; so it is this Christmas that I urge those who enjoy music of this season to try some songs from other countries. If for no other reason then just to see how they differ from those in our own countries. Poland for instance has a nice song called “Dormi Bambino” which thanks to Carreras having a Polish girlfriend at the time ended up being performed by “The 3 Tenors” on their Christmas album which I recommend to all, even those who be not fans of classical music.
When it comes to Christmas songs, they not only are not limited by international boundaries but by musical styles as songs of the season have been covered from artist as diverse as “The 3 Tenors”, McCartney, Lennon, Slade, Brian Adams, Steve Vai, Kenny G, Kenny Rogers in styles of music that include country, disco and recently even hip-hop. I however always incline to the traditional arrangements as those are the ones I grew up on.
In conclusion I would say there is no denying the influence Christmas has had on music as there is no denying the same for what music has meant to Christmas, for what would be this season without those songs we grew up with? Songs which we perhaps sang in school, which will last forever as will this day, therefore it is with this in mind that I suggest to all who enjoy Christmas not to exclude those songs and carols which like the tree itself will bring to our homes that spirit of giving which is so abundant during this time of year known as Christmas.