“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping on your nose, yuletide carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos.” Everybody knows… the next line. The Christmas holiday season wouldn’t be complete without the music. Songs reminding us of love, hope, and peace fill the air and warm the hearts of listeners world-wide. According to ASCAP, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Mel Torme and Robert Wells is the most recorded song of all time.
Other songs like Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas round out the top five of most recorded Holiday songs. Whether it is in the shopping malls, radio stations, in movies, the songs of the season add the finishing touch to most events. The rich history of holiday music goes way back. Music was an early feature of the Christmas season and its celebrations.
The earliest chants, litanies, and hymns were Latin works intended for use during the church liturgy, rather than popular songs. The 13th century saw the rise of the carol written in the vernacular under the influence of Francis of Assisi. The word carol comes from the Greek word choraulein, meaning a circle dance performed to flute music. In the Middle Ages, the English combined circle dances with singing and called them carols. Later, the word carol came to mean a song in which a religious topic is treated in a style that is familiar or festive. From Italy, it passed to France and Germany, and later to England.
Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Audelay, a Shropshire priest and poet, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house. Music in itself soon became one of the greatest tributes to Christmas, and Christmas music includes some of the noblest compositions of the great musicians.
This year Country, Classical, Pop, and Christian artists have tried to reinvent the season once more with new Christmas music. The following projects have a moving mix of classic tunes as well as newly written tunes, on their way to becoming holiday favorites. Check out the links for the following CDs – they would make great stocking-stuffers and help to top off any family holiday party.