The thought of hearing Bing Crosby, Anne Murray et al warbling over the shopping centre PAs about a white christmas, chestnuts over an open fire, or simply demanding Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! really irritates me every year... even to the point where it influences my choices of where to shop.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in a Nazareth manger. Nothing to do with a snowbound American winter. And as for Santa Claus, well the Dutch celebrate him on December 6.
I say this to preamble my first venture into musical playlists on this blog, as I endeavour to honour the religious Christmas carols, and take the piss out of the secular Christmas/holiday songs.
My first Christmas songlist is actually one album - one which is the closest thing I have heard to the definitive album of Christmas carols.
"The Naxos Book of Carols" (2004) is a collection of 24 carols, arranged to represent one for each day of Advent. Commissioned especially for the Naxos label, performed by eight-person choral ensemble Tonus Peregrinus, and is an excellent mainstream collection.
The performance in the opening track of "O come, o come, Emmanuel" was quite a profound revelatory experience for me. A song that I was barely familiar with was transformed in one foul swoop into my favourite Christmas carol of all.
Some of the old standards are there, like "Silent Night", "Away in a Manger" (the first Christmas carol I ever learned), "O come all ye faithful", "Ding dong merrily on high", "While Shepherds Watched" and so on.
As serious Christmas carol collections go, this one will do me. The full playlist:
O come, o come, Emmanuel
Of the Father's heart begotten
O quickly come
Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O
Lo! He comes
The holly and the ivy
Lo, there a Rose is blooming
Alleluya - a new work
Ding! dong! merrily on high
While shepherds watched
The Song of Angels
Hark! the herald angels sing
Away in a manger
Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep
O little town of Bethlehem
Jesu, the very thought is sweet
O come, all ye faithful
In dulci jubilo
Good King Wenceslas
We three kings of Orient are
I saw three ships come sailing in
Hail to the Lord's Anointed