This week's RevGalBlogPals Friday Five is all about Christmas carols...so indulge in a cup of cocoa with an Altoid chaser, and join me in pondering:
A favorite 'secular' Christmas song:
For me it's a toss-up between "The Christmas Song" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better):
It isn't cheesy, but "Christmas in the Trenches," John McCutcheon's song about the World War I Christmas truce where English and German soldiers climbed out of their trenches and met on the battlefield to celebrate the holiday together before going back to the carnage of warfare, makes me boo-hoo every time; it's actually making my eyes water even thinking about it. Another non-cheesy song that makes me a little misty, I think simply because of the melody: "Lo, How a Rose is Growing"; ditto "Once in Royal David's City" -- both the sweet voices of the child sopranos who often sing the first line, and the "big ending" when the choir and congregation and organ and other instruments all join together. Okay -- this one is just a touch cheesy: Mario Lanza belting out "O Holy Night."
Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire:
So many songs...so little time..."Jingle Bell Rock" -- I think more because of the mind-numbing repetition in every Muzak-drenched public space than because of the song itself, which is fairly innocuous; "Do You Hear What I Hear?", which drips with lounge-lizard Cheez-Whiz ("Now, I hope this next song means as much to you as it does to me..."); most of the Christmas fare on the average country-music station.
The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss:
Well, I remember, as a young poultry grower, once trying to find out what kind of hen a "French hen" actually was...so it was educational. I know that this song is thought by some to be a kind of encoded Roman Catholic catechism that originated back in the days of Cromwell, but I admit to not really picking up on the metaphors...which I guess makes it a pretty good code.
A favorite Christmas album: That's hard. At the risk of being stuck firmly in my NPR-listening, Barnes and Noble shopping, cappucino-sipping rut, I enjoy George Winston's "December" album and the Windham Hill Christmas compilations. Anything by the St. Olaf or Kings College choirs. Familiar Christmas carols rendered by classical musicians. Any Christmas album with Frank Sinatra or Rosemary Clooney on it. I love Sarah MacLachlan's and James Taylor's new Christmas albums. And I kind of dig world-beat Christmas albums. I like Hannukah music too. Come to think of it, I'm pretty much describing standing inside a Barnes and Noble and listening to the canned holiday music.