I am a (former?) vocalist and actor married to a music teacher. That being said it's probably obvious to you that music is my favorite part of the Christmas season. I love to sing carols, listen to them, from the first Sunday of Advent to Epiphany I have them on in the house, or in the car, or in my head while listening to NPR or whatever. My church in Utica has a phenomenal choir as well so I learned some awesome Christmas music there too. So for your pleasure, a double list for you of my favorite seasonal pieces. As I am a Christian and a bit of an Anglophile, the first list contains my religious favorites (many are old English and OMG! The order on that one matters, 1 is my favorite piece of all time and so on to 10 my least favorite favorite), and the other list is my secular faves (in no order)
1. The Holly and The Ivy. , this is the Winchester Cathedral Choir, wearing the same chorister robes we used to (ruffs and all, ruffs are cool). My Christmas China (what?! You don't have Christmas china?) is Portmerion's The Holly and The Ivy even. I love it that much. One of the reasons I knew my house was the one was the huge holly bush on the side.
2. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. The John Gardner one. That piece just plain makes me happy, and I'll bet most of you don't know it, listen! It's fun: , this is King's College of Cambridge
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I used to love to fall asleep to this one. I've always loved the darker sound of it and the beautiful message of comfort and joy. Such a rich comforting carol.Here's Bing!
4. Still Still Still. Such a gorgeous German song. I remember how hard I worked to learn the pronunciation perfectly to sing to my grandparents (who didn't speak German but oh well) on Christmas Eve. I wish I could say it moved them, but I still love this one and sing it to my daughter.
Vienna Boys Choir this time.
5. Silent Night: I love this both in English and German. Especially with the descant. Oh man I love me some descants. (and Anglican chant, but that's a story for another day). Here's the St. Thomas Boys Choir singing it in German since everyone knows it in English.
6. Ah John Rutter, how I love your Shepherd's Pipe Carol. Light, fun, pretty. Love love love. Give yourself a treat and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this to you.
7. Oh Holy Night, I don't know why, but this hymn always moves me to tears. (unless it's sung by Eric Cartman) I don't even try to sing it cause I can't do it justice. However, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does just fine.
8. Angels We Have Heard on High. This song is fun to sing, and my favorite version is the one from my copy of A Very Veggie Christmas that a dear friend once bought me to get over my fear of the Veggitales. It's a cool calypso version sung by Palmy and I can't find it online. Ah well. Everyone knows this one I think.
9. Once in Royal David's City, ah, how I wanted to be the treble chosen to sing the solo in the procession. So much. Sometimes being an alto/mezzo at heart is tough.
King's College of Cambridge again.
10. In the Bleak Midwinter I love this carol, even though we all know it wasn't midwinter when Christ was really born, but I love how it starts so well, bleakly, and gets warmer as it goes. I feel the chill, and I can see the scene unfold for me. I love this.
Gloucester Cathedral Choir this time.
Ten (in no order, except for number 1) of my favorite secular holiday/winter songs.
1. Hands down, no question in my mind ever. White Christmas sung by Bing Crosby (of course)
2. Christmas in Killarny. Maybe cause it mentions Holly and Ivy, maybe because it's Bing and I heard it every Christmas of my life? I dunno, just enjoy:
3. The Christmas Song I really think it's the imagery here. I can see every moment of it. I feel warmer just thinking about it. Here's Nat King Cole.
4. I think we're seeing my old taste in music here. Let it Snow I remember curling up by the fire in my Grandpapa's house with a poodle chasing her tail around the room, opening gifts on Christmas eve while this played. *sigh* Here's Frankie:
5. Ok, ok, this one does mention God, but it's not really a religious song so I'm putting it here. I had this on a very old old cassette tape, and I loved it so much that I played it til it broke, it was a compilation of Christmas music and it had Lorne Green (from Bonanza!) singing this song, and I never found it anywhere else until the wonders of YouTube. Enjoy God Bless You, Gentlemen (Christmas is a-coming)
6. I love Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas not just because it's from one of my favorite movies, but because it's such a beautiful message. I especially love the line "Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow". Just gives me chills. Here it is by the incomparable Judy Garland.
7. This reminds me of Christmas shopping with my mother, when I was very wee and downtown still existed. Here's Bing and Rosemary Clooney: singing Silver Bells
8. Merry Christmas Darling I fell in love with this one when Pat and I were still at the dating stage where we didn't spend Christmas together. I am so glad those days are over and that we're always together as a family.
9. OK, a lot of people hate this song, and I was kinda lukewarm on it when I heard it as a child. Then I went to Sage, and (although they rejected me) I fell in love with the Sagettes. (I'm an honorary one now *wink*) and they reintroduced me to their holiday tranditional: Santa Baby and now I love it. Especially re-hearing Etta James sing it. OMG
10. I'll be Home for Christmas I'm a sentimental sap who like the sentimental songs. Especially ones I can sing my baby to sleep with. I love this one. Especially when I think of all the people in my life, and the lives of those I love who can't come home because of all their obligations and duties. So here's Frankie again:
Now, of course, I like almost ALL Winter holiday music. But these rank the highest for me (at least in my current mood hahaha) I hope you enjoy them too.