Posts filed under ‘Holiday Music’

Wassail Song

“The Wassail Song” (Here We Come A-wassailing) is an English traditional Christmas carol composed c. 1850. It refers to ‘wassailing’, or singing carols door to door, in hopes of partaking of the wassail bowl – a hearty combination of hot ale or beer, apples, spices and mead.

My arrangement is in a 1960’s instrumental guitar rock style similar to the Ventures.

December 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

Carol of the Birds

“Carol of the Birds” is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol. I have arranged it in the instrumental style of the Shadows.

December 21, 2016 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Jolly Old St Nicolas

“Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” is a secular Christmas song that originated with a poem by Emily Huntington Miller (1833-1913), published as “Lilly’s Secret” in 1865.  The song is traditionally performed to a melody which James Lord Pierpont wrote in 1857 for the original version of “Jingle Bells”.

For a “B” section, I have used “The Boar’s Head Carol”, a 15th century English Christmas carol that describes the ancient tradition of sacrificing a boar and presenting its head at a Yuletide feast.

As usual, my instrumental arrangement is in 1960’s guitar-rock style.

December 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Fum Fum Fum

“Fum, Fum, Fum” is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol dating from the 16th or 17th century. The word “fum” means smoke in Catalan, so the title may refer to smoke rising from a chimney as seen from afar, or, as indicated in the New Oxford Book of Carols, “may imitate the strumming of a guitar”.

December 20, 2016 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

In Midnight’s Silence

“In Midnight’s Silence” is a traditional Polish carol.

My instrumental arrangement is high-energy surf-rock.

December 19, 2016 at 7:27 pm Leave a comment

Carol of the Bells

“Carol of the Bells” is a popular Christmas carol composed by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914 with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky. The lyrics are copyrighted, although the original musical composition is not, as it was based on a folk song.

My instrumental arrangement attempts to capture how a 1960’s guitar rock band might have played it.

December 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is a popular Christmas carol from the West Country of England.

My instrumental arrangement is in the style of the Ventures.

December 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm Leave a comment

Coventry Carol

“Coventry Carol” is an English Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents (found only in the Gospel of Matthew), in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed, and takes the form of a lullaby sung by mothers of the doomed children.

This instrumental arrangement is done in the style of the Shadows.

This version is jazz chord melody:

December 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Pat a Pan

“Pat-a-pan” is a French Christmas carol written by Bernard de La Monnoye (1641–1728) and first published in 1720.

The carol revolves around the birth of Jesus Christ, and is told from the perspective of shepherds playing simple instruments—flutes and drums. “Patapan” is meant to mimic the sound of the drum, and the lyric, “tu-re-lu-re-lu,” the flute. This is similar conceptually to the carol “The Little Drummer Boy”, with its chorus of “pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.”

My 1960’s style instrumental rock setting accordingly features a prominent drum part. For a “B” Section, I incorporated the carol “I Saw Three Ships”, a traditional and popular Christmas carol from England. The earliest printed version of “I Saw Three Ships” is from the 17th century.

December 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Gabriel’s Message

“Gabriel’s Message” is a Basque Christmas carol about the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ. I have combined it here with “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella”, a Christmas carol which originated from the Provence region of France in the 16th century.

The instrumental rock setting is in the style of the Shadows.

December 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming

“Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming” (“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen”), is a Christmas carol and Marian Hymn of German origin. The tune most familiar today appeared in 1599, and the familiar harmonization was written by German composer Michael Praetorius in 1609.

My instrumental version strives to preserve the simple beauty of the carol while giving it a 60’s-style setting reminiscent of the Shadows.

December 13, 2016 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

Up on the Housetop

“Up on the House Top” is a Christmas song written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864. It is one of the oldest secular holiday songs, outdone only by “Jingle Bells” from 1857 — which has no specific connection to Christmas.

The idea that Santa and his sleigh land on the roof of homes comes from Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem, “The Night Before Christmas”.

My instrumental version is arranged in the style of the Shadows.

December 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

The Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol is a traditional religious Irish Christmas carol originating from County Wexford, with words that may date back as early as the 12th century. The subject is that of the nativity of Jesus Christ.

The origin of the tune is also somewhat unclear; it may be as early as the 16th century or as recent as the 19th.

My version is instrumental and tries to get a Celtic undertone. If this carol is new to you — as it was to me this year — I encourage you to explore other versions. Allison Krause has a nice one, and there is also one by Celtic woman.

December 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm Leave a comment

What Child is This

“What Child Is This?” has words written by Englishman William Chatterton Dix in 1865. Subsequently set to the tune of “Greensleeves”, a traditional English folk song, the carol is actually more popular in the United States than in its country of origin today.

My instrumental rock arrangement attempts to sound as it might have if performed by the Shadows.

December 7, 2016 at 5:05 pm 1 comment

Ding Dong Merrily on High

“Ding Dong Merrily on High” is a Christmas carol. The melody dates to 16th century, France,  first appearing as a secular dance tune in a dance collection written by Jehan Tabourot (1519–1593). The lyrics are from English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934). The carol was first published in its current form in 1924.

Like “Angels We Have Heard on High”, the song is noted for the Latin refrain, “Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!”, where the sung vowel sound “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence.

This emphasis on the “Gloria” inspired my setting.

December 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

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