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December days: Favourite carol 
2014-12-24 (Wed) 11:25
For Christmas Eve, ghoti asked me to talk about my favourite carol.

My absolute favourite is O Holy Night, or Cantique de Noël, either in French or in Dwight's English translation. Musically, it's spine-thrilling, requires a considerable dynamic range, and is just really fun to sing. But it's also a hymn of love and adoration and a call to peace.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.

As an aside, one of my favourite SF series is Julian May's Galactic Milieu (probably best read after the Saga of the Exiles, although to some extent they work either way round), and there's a particularly atmospheric point in that when the Remillard family are gathered on Christmas Eve and "Cantique de Noël" drifts out of the church into a snowy night. I was already in love with the carol by then, I don't actually take my musical preferences from SF, but that scene didn't hurt.

There are a few other carols close to my heart. ghoti likes me to sing Stille Nacht on the way back from Midnight Mass as a tradition inherited from her childhood, which is very special; I learned that in German class when I was a teenager, and there's something about "Gottes Sohn! O wie lacht / Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund" which isn't at all conveyed by the usual English translation. Singing this on the way home doesn't work quite so well now that we've given up the car and cycle back, but it's still manageable.

Finally, I particularly love "In the Bleak Mid-winter", especially Harold Darke's arrangement.

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
This entry was originally posted at http://cjwatson.dreamwidth.org/14447.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
2014-12-24 (Wed) 11:49 (UTC)
Oh good — I was hoping In The Bleak Midwinter would get a mention. (-8
2014-12-29 (Mon) 22:38 (UTC)
Silent Night just pipped O Holy Night in Classic FM's favourite carol vote this year. I used to sing Bleak Midwinter to E in his basket as we had a Rossetti poetry book on the bedside table - I like "If I were a shepherd/pard"!

Edited at 2014-12-29 22:39 (UTC)
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