2019nChristmas Countdown: Still, Still, Still

Still, Still, Still

Still, Still, Still is an Austrian Christmas carol and lullaby. In German its first line is “Still, still, still, weil’s Kindlein schlafen will!” (Hush, hush, hush, for the little child wants to sleep!)

The melody is a folk tune (authorship unknown) from the State of Salzburg. The tune appeared for the first time in 1865 in a folksong collection of Maria Vinzenz Süß (1802-1868), founder of the Salzburg Museum; it has changed slightly over the years but remains attributed to G. Götsch.

The words, which run to six verses in German, describe the peace of the infant Jesus and his mother as they sleep. There are various English translations.  This is one version:

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

2019 Christmas Countdown: Ding Dong! Merrily On High

Ding Dong! Merrily On High

Ding Dong! Merrily On High

“Ding Dong Merrily on High” first appeared as a secular dance tune known as “le branle de l’Official” in a dance book written by Jehan Tabourot (1519–1593). The lyrics are from English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934), and it was first published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, And Other Seasons. Woodward had an interest in church bell ringing, which no doubt helped inspire this carol

Ding dong! merrily on high
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with Angel singing.
REFRAIN

Gloria,
Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria,
Hosanna in excelsis!
E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And “Io, io, io!”
By priest and people sungen.
REFRAIN

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.
REFRAIN

Note: “Swungen” and “Sungen” in the second verse are archaic English verb forms.

 

2019 Christmas Countdown: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel is the mid-19th-century translation by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin of the Ecclesiastical Latin text “Veni, veni, Emmanuel”.

The text is based on the Biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that states that God will give Israel a sign that will be called Emmanuel (Literally: God with us). Matthew 1:23 states fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

On December 9 ~ in Music History

today

Christmas Countdown: Mary Did You Know

• 1791 ~ Peter Joseph Von Lindpaintnerr, German composer,

• 1837 ~ Charles-Emile Waldteufel, French pianist, conductor and composer of dance music

• 1882 ~ Joaquín Turina, Spanish pianist and composer

• 1906 ~ Freddy Martin ‘Mr. Silvertone’, Tenor sax, bandleader

• 1915 ~ Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, German soprano

• 1926 ~ Benny Goodman’s first recording session was this day. He played clarinet with the Ben Pollack Orchestra on a tune titled Downtown Shuffle on Victor Records. Goodman, incidentally, was all of 17 years old.

• 1938 ~ Tatiana Troyanos, American mezzo-soprano

• 1938 ~ David Houston, Grammy Award-winning singer, actor

• 1944 ~ Neil Innes, Keyboard, singer, songwriter with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

• 1950 ~ Joan Armatrading, British rock singer and songwriter

• 1953 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded Young At Heart. The song was turned down by Nat ‘King’ Cole and other artists, believe it or not. It became a top hit in the U.S. in March of 1954.

• 1954 ~ Jack Hues, Singer with Wang Chung

• 1956 ~ Sylvia (Sylvia Allen), Singer

• 1956 ~ The Million Dollar Session was held at Sun Records in Memphis, TN. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis gathered for an impromptu jam session. Six songs by the artists were recorded at this session. None of the songs was released for nearly three decades.

• 1957 ~ Donny Osmond, Singer with the Osmond Brothers, TV host of Donny and Marie, actor

• 1973 ~ Keith Moon, Rod Stewart and Roger Daltrey opened the rock opera Tommy in London. The show featuring Tommy, Pinball Wizard and other tunes, was so hot that tickets sold for $50 and up.

• 1984 ~ The Jackson’s Victory Tour came to a close at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles after 55 performances in 19 cities. The production was reported to be the world’s greatest rock extravaganza and one of the most problematic. The Jackson brothers received about $50 million during the five-month tour of the U.S., with some 2.5 million fans in attendance.

• 2000 ~ Marina Koshetz, who followed her famous Russian diva mother Nina to the opera and concert stage and into the movies, died at the age of 88.

• 2004 ~ Country and Western singer Jerry Scoggins, whose baritone rendition of the theme song of “The Beverly Hillbillies” became one of television’s favorite tunes, died at age 93.

2019 Christmas Countdown: Mary Did You Know

Mary Did You Know

The Pender Choir sang an arrangement of this Christmas Carol December 2, 2012 and as part of the 2015 Christmas Cantata.

Mark Lowry wrote the words in 1984 when his pastor asked him to write the program for the living Christmas tree choir presentation. The music was written by Buddy Greene.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will walk again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM

 

2019 Christmas Countdown: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

In 1850, Richard Storrs Willis, a composer who trained under Felix Mendelssohn, wrote the melody called “Carol.” This melody is most often set in the key of B-flat major in a six-eight time signature. “Carol” is the most widely known tune to the song in the United States.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

 

Another version:

 

2019 Christmas Countdown: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

hark

Charles Wesley (1707-1788),  the younger brother of John Wesley wrote the words to this Christmas Carol.

Charles was a hymn writer and a poet, also known as one of the people who began the Methodist movement in the Church of England. Hark the Herald Angels Sing appeared in 1739 in a book called Hymns and Sacred Poems.

Wesley envisioned this being sung to the same tune as his hymn, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,  and in some hymnals it is included along with the more popular version.

This hymn was regarded as one of the Great Four Anglican Hymns and published as number 403 in “The Church Hymn Book” (New York and Chicago, USA, 1872).

To celebrate the invention of the printing press, Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata in 1840 called Festgesang or “Festival Song”. The melody of Mendelssohn’s cantata was then used by William H. Cummings and adapted it to the lyrics of Wesley’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

And, of course, no one can do it better than The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.