Welcome along to the special blog posts I will be doing throughout this month starting today on the 1st. Each week up until the 28th I will be doing special Christmas posts on different topics which will change each week. It will cover videos, mixes, blog posts, poems and many more topics each day up until after Christmas. This week it will all be about House and focusing on a club theme from house to other electronic genres all in a Christmas theme. I thought this would be a great way to celebrate Christmas on my website and I hope you enjoy the posts I create, let’s kick it off, shall we. I will be sort of talking about an old album I’ve made for Christmas last year Called Four Calling Birds and is a 12 track house album of famous Christmas carols, I will be picking my favourite carols from that album and tell you why I like them and some information about them.

The first carol I chose which was written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins JR is We Three Kings and is my favourite as I like the melody and tells the story of three kings travelling to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus. In fact, the story goes after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. It has a good start to it with the opening lines “We three kings of orient are” even though as my friend points out it doesn’t make good English I still don’t know what they are saying on that line but it doesn’t matter. I also like the way it tells the story of the three kings travelling far to see the new king. I once sang this at school in the choir and fell in love with it then but on the low of course, lol. It reminds me of my gran and she was singing this a couple of Christmas’s ago around Christmas time when I went to London to visit family. It is definitely a carol to get you in the mood for Christmas and is moody but still good to hear when they sing it or play it in a band, you can’t beat the Salvation Army band playing it.

Good King Wenceslas is another favourite of mine as I like the melody to it and the lyrics and melody are catchy and sucks you into the Christmas spirit. It tells the story of a king who was duke of Bohemia (Czech Republic) who gives the presents out to the poor, he reigned during the 10th century. He was assassinated on September 28th 935 AD by his younger brother Boleslaus The Cruel as he wanted to take over and be king, they made him from duke to a king after his death, he was crowned by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. It was written by John Mason Neale in 1853 but the melody dates back to a 13th-century spring carol called Tempus Adest Floripum (The Time Is Near For Flowering.) The song wasn’t well-received as they didn’t like that it was changed from the spring carol and was associated with comic verse (funny poems.) Just for you singers and producers out there, his works are now in the public domain and can be used in any way you see fit. There is an interesting story of when he was 13 in 921 AD his father died and his grandma Ludmila came regent his mother Drahomira became jealous and arranged for the grandmother to be killed the grandmother was assassinated on September 15th 921 AD it was alleged she was strangled by her own veil and the mother became regent. When Wenceslas turned 18 he had his mother exiled to Budec, it’s not clear what happened to her but probably didn’t end that well for her after having his Grandma killed. In September 935 a group of nobles and his brother plotted to kill him he was invited to the feast of Saints Cosmas And Damian, he was stabbed to death by three of the nobles and as he falls to the ground his younger brother ran him through with a lance. His loyal servant Podevin avenged his death by killing one of the chief conspirators but was caught and executed by his younger brother. Wenceslas was made a martyr and saint straight after his death when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing is another catchy melody which always sounds good when a choir sings it. It is another carol you think of when you think Christmas carols and is one I was brought up with. My favourite bit is the line “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled” I don’t know why I just like the line and the way it’s sung. It was written by Charles Wesley in 1739 AD and in 1754 the opening line was changed by George Whitefield to the familiar hark the herald Angels sing, the original line was “hark how all the welkin rings.” In 1855 the melody we know today was added to it and was added by William H Cummings and was adapted from Felix Mendelssohn’s secular music from Festgesang. The background story is that King Herod otherwise known as Herod The Great or Herod the first was born 37 BC and died 4 BC and was a Roman client king of Judea and was king during the birth of Jesus. It was rumoured he was meant to have ordered the massacre of the innocents but some scholars dispute this. If you didn’t know King Herod ordered the killing of all male children under the age of two because the three wise men stopped by and told him of the prophecy of Jesus. He was guilty of many things including the killing of his wife, brother in law, three of his sons and three hundred military leaders, he was a paranoid king which explains his actions quite a lot. The Herald Angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a classic carol and is my favourite out of all the carols and I have quite a few. I don’t know what it is, I love the melody to it and the way it’s sung, it really touches me and I get in the whole thing when singing it. I remember once around Christmas I was in London near to Christmas not sure when but it was before but I went to church with my gran and I tried to sing it but couldn’t it, sounded like a nerd trapped in a church hall absolutely horrific and my timing was off but it’s all good I was embarrassed though. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is one of our oldest carols dating to the 16th century or earlier. The lyrics were changed to God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen by Charles Dickens in his book A Christmas Carol in 1760. In the mid 18th century it was documented by James Nares under the title The Old Christmas Carol, it is also known as Tidings Of Comfort And Joy.

What Child Is This otherwise known as Greensleeves is another favourite of mine and I’m not sure about lyrics I ain’t too familiar with it but again the melody is catchy and always gets me in the Christmas mood. I am more familiar with the traditional English folk song Greensleeves than What Child Is This but they both remind me of the songs. What Child is this was written by William Chatterton Dicks in 1865 and was working as an insurance manager and was struck down with a severe illness, whilst recovering he underwent a spiritual renewal that led him to write several hymns. He first wrote it as a poem called The Manger Throne and was about the shepherds encountering baby Jesus in Bethlehem. It is said the original to What Child Is This which is a folk song called Greensleeves is attributed to King Henry VII and was written about his lover and future queen Anne Boleyn. But there is evidence that the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that didn’t reach England until after henry’s death, making it more likely to be of Elizabethan origins. I find it interesting that the song Greensleeves could be interpreted as a promiscuous lady or even a lady of the night (Prostitute) at the time the word green had sexual meaning. The melody of Greensleves is also referenced in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives Of Windsor in 1597.

The last one on the list is While Shepherds Watch Thier Flocks By Night and is another one of my favourites. It’s more of a gentler song and is one to relax to. I like it as it brings back memories of singing it in school and of course hearing it around Christmas, for some reasons it reminds me of Silent Night and Christmas Eve it has a lot of good memories. It was composed around 1700 with lyrics by Nahum Tate who was England’s poet laureate the melody comes from a song called Winchester Old by Christopher Tye in 1553. The song is about the shepherds watching the birth of Jesus after they were told by an angel of Jesus’s coming. In the 18th Century, this was the only Christmas Hymn that was approved of by the Church Of England. The song was slightly changed from whilst to while and most book publishers print the while version.

One Reply to “Advent/Santa’s House; Half Dozen Carols”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your histories of these Christmas carols, most of the information was new to me. Well done.

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