Archive for the ‘christmas chorale music’ Category

Pax Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis – Noel: Christmas Eve 1913

December 24, 2017

On a long drive home from far western Iowa (four miles from South Dakota) I was listening to the St. Olaf Choir on some Minnesota Public Radio station. I asked Siri if she could name the tune they were singing, and she did!

It was Noel: Christmas Eve 1913. I thought, “hey, that’s a John Denver tune”. Lo and behold, it’s a Robert Bridges poem that the Director Emeritus of St. Olaf’s Choir, Kenneth Jennings put to music years ago (AND it’s a John Denver tune). There isn’t a video of the choir singing this interpretation but I found a site with a player and I’ll link to it in the usual spot below. More on John Denver below as well.

St. Olaf Choir
St. Olaf Bookstore

(Please note Noel: Christmas Eve 1913 by the St. Olaf Choir is only available via the St. Olaf Choir bookstore. The other links above will send you to Christmas music from the choir.)

Composer and orchestrator, Lee Holdridge adapted the Bridges poem and set it to music for John Denver as part of the 1979 ABC TV special, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. I don’tknow when Jennings wrote his version for choir so no idea who came first. They are related only in they are interpretations of the same poem.

I like them both.

Here is the original Bridges poem:

Noel: Christmas Eve 1913

Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis 

A frosty Christmas Eve
when the stars were shining
Fared I forth alone
where westward falls the hill,
And from many a village
in the water’d valley
Distant music reach’d me
peals of bells aringing:
The constellated sounds
ran sprinkling on earth’s floor
As the dark vault above
with stars was spangled o’er.
Then sped my thoughts to keep
that first Christmas of all
When the shepherds watching
by their folds ere the dawn
Heard music in the fields
and marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels
or the bright stars singing.

Now blessed be the tow’rs
that crown England so fair
That stand up strong in prayer
unto God for our souls
Blessed be their founders
(said I) an’ our country folk
Who are ringing for Christ
in the belfries to-night
With arms lifted to clutch
the rattling ropes that race
Into the dark above
and the mad romping din.

But to me heard afar
it was starry music
Angels’ song, comforting
as the comfort of Christ
When he spake tenderly
to his sorrowful flock:
The old words came to me
by the riches of time
Mellow’d and transfigured
as I stood on the hill
Heark’ning in the aspect
of th’ eternal silence.

Robert Seymour Bridges
(If the link above does not open, try here.)
 John Denver – Noel: Christmas Eve 1913



Pressed For Time So A Blast From The Past

December 16, 2017

Way back when I started this blog there wasn’t nearly as much content on youtube as there is now. And if you did upload something, youtube was much more lax regarding copyright laws.

Nowadays, their algorithm detects copyright infringement within seconds of an upload. That’s a good and a bad thing. Good for the artist. But if there is a song from an artist that isn’t on youtube and you try to upload it, chances are really good google will slap you down post haste.

So way back when, I uploaded several songs and they’re still there and have thousands of views. Don’t ask me how. I have no idea.

I’m a bit pressed for time today so I’m going to feature several songs I’ve uploaded through the years.

  • Carol of the Bells Medley from the amazing Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
  • The Chieftains featuring Burgess Meredith – Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil
  • Steve Goodman’s live and off the cuff Winter Wonderland
  • Curt Smith’s This Is Christmas (originally from the TV show Psyche)

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir –  Carol of the Bells Medley

The Chieftains featuring Burgess Meredith – Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil

Steve Goodman – Winter Wonderland

Curt Smith – This Is Christmas

Two Takes On “O Come O Come Emmanuel”

December 18, 2016

Two takes on O Come O Come Emmanuel tonight. One is a modern mostly acoustic take performed by the worship team at Cross Point Church (Kansas). Jason Waller is the Worship Pastor at Cross Point Salina and this recording is his arrangement. Waller has recorded a fair amount of very good Christian music — and through Christmas you can download all of it for free. FREE! Click here.

The other version is from The Robert Shaw Chamber Singers and is one of the most majestic versions of this song ever recorded (in my humble opinion).

O Come O Come Emmanuel – Cross Point

O Come O Come Emmanuel Robert Shaw Choral

o come, emanuel – robert shaw chamber singers

December 24, 2014

A song fitting for Christmas Eve, O Come, Emanuel from the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers’ 1997 release, Angels On High.

O Come, Emanuel

Wonderful Medley of Carols from The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

December 21, 2014

The award winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has released four Christmas records over the years. My favorite is Christmas At Brooklyn Tabernacle. The record features their tremendous Medley of Carols which includes Carol Of The Bells, I Wonder As I Wander, O Come All Ye Faithful, Do You Hear What I Hear and The Little Drummer Boy. I’ll feature that song tonight.

Carols Medley – The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Magnificat Mary – Christmas Celebration 2013 First Free Rockford Church featuring Amanda Young

December 4, 2014

This song, Magnificat Mary, is taken from the 2013 Christmas Celebration at First Free Rockford (IL) Church. It features the amazing talented Amanda Young (Amanda Stott) on the lead vocal. She is backed by the amazing First Free Choir..

Amanda first reached the Canadian charts as a 17 year old with the tune, Black is Black. Through the years, she has had several of her songs reach the charts, including Paper Rain which went to #1.

What’s even cooler is she regularly sings in the worship band at First Free Church and lives in Rockford with her husband Matt (also a very talented  singer/songwriter and musician) and their son Micah.

Amanda’s performance at First Free’s Christmas show last year was truly outstanding. Give it a listen.

Magnificat Mary

A quick plug, First Free’s annual Christmas music program takes place December 13th and 14th. Tickets are only $5.00 and the show is always exceptional.

21,551 Views & Counting

December 30, 2013

On December 10, 2010, I uploaded a version of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s “Carols: Carol Of The Bells/I Wonder As I Wander/O Come All Ye Faithful/Do You Hear What I Hear…” (from their outstanding CD, “Christmas At The Brooklyn Tabernacle).” It’s a wonderful medley from this outstanding group of singers and musicians.

It’s been viewed nearly 22,000 times since. Make it one more — you won’t be disappointed.

How I Grew Up

December 23, 2013

When I grew up, the house was always full of music coming the the record player. It ranged from opera, to classical, to big band with a little ibt of just about everything thrown if for good measure (the rock stuff came from the individual bedrooms — not much of that on the “official” stereo of the home).

I believe my Dad pulled out his Christmas music on December 1 (although it might’ve been Thanksgiving). The Christmas music we listened to was as varied as what was played throughout the year (see my December 12 post for more).

Christmas music from Bach, MozartTchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams to name a few get heavy play on my playlist every year at Christmas, as do the great choral pieces that are frequently related to the great composers.

Tonight at the recommendation of Frank Edwards (my Dad),

…part 12 of Berlioz’s L’Enfrance Du Christ (Infancy of Christ). The part is titled “The Shepherds Farewell” and in my opinion it is gorgeous. The reason it is seldom played I would guess is that The whole work is over 90  minutes long and it appears a bit more than halfway thru at the middle of part 2 of a three part whole.  I have the whole thing on an older EMI two disc set I also have a version of it in a very old “Christmas with Robert Shaw” Atlanta Symphony  as no.13 in a disc of 16 Christmas pieces. On Allegretto label no 8409.

I have the Robert Shaw version in my collection but can’t find it online. The Royal Choral Society with the LondonConcert Orchestra will have to do.

The Amazing Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

December 17, 2012

The Brooklyn Tabernacle is a multicultural, non-denominational church in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. The church began with a handful of members in a small, rundown building in a difficult area of the city, and today it is a congregation of about ten thousand people who attend the weekly services.

Oh — they also have this amazingly talented choir. The 280-voice choir, which for the most part is composed of vocally untrained church members, has recorded three videos, three DVDs and numerous albums, winning five Dove Awards and six Grammy Awards.

A few years ago, I created a video of these folks performing their “Carol Of The Bells Medley” (Carols: Carol Of The Bells/I Wonder As I Wander/O Come All Ye Faithful/Do You Hear What I Hear/The Little Drummer Boy).

The video is about as simple as it gets — the music however, is spectacular.

(I believe that right now, December 17th, 2012, the two Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Christmas CDs are 33% off — a steal.) You can find some of their music at iTunes (and of course at Amazon). The Christmas medley I’m featuring tonight is not available at iTunes.

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