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I apologize for not being around much lately, but I have been busy doing Christmas baking and sorting out some personal issues.  Monday I shipped off two boxes of goodies, one to the former Mrs. Translator for her and the two sons that will be able to spend time with her for the holidays, and the other to Eldest Son and his bride who are unable to come home for Christmas.

Contents included Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White "Chocolate" Chip Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies, a family Christmas tradition.  I got word from both of them that they each got their goodies in good condition on Wednesday.  Hat tip to the USPS for providing excellent service and a very good price with Priority Mail.

There are some really good seasonal songs playing these days, and I shall share some of them with you tonight.  Most of them are from my childhood, and many of them are from Goodyear's Great Songs of Christmas, Volume 5 from 1965, so I would have been eight at the time.  I rooted around through my vinyl and alas no longer have the record.  Others are from different sources.

There are literally thousands of Christmas songs, some religious and some secular.  Along with those, there are lots of holiday season songs that have no reference to Christmas per se, but are still traditional for the season.  Here is a small sampling of some of the ones with which I liked when I was a child.

During the Christmas season my mum would play Christmas music all of the time whilst we decorated the house and tree, and when she was doing the traditional Christmas goodie baking (which, as I mentioned, is now my duty) and wrapping gifts.  That woman could wrap!  Last evening my friend and I wrapped gifts for her family at her house and placed them under the tree.  Now if she can just keep her little girl out of them until Tuesday morning all will be well!

Before we get to the videos, I have some recollections of songs that were often sung at my church, Hackett United Methodist in Hackett, Arkansas.  When I was really little, the hymnal that we used was the Cokesbury one, of ancient edition.  They were so old that they were falling apart, and even had the shaped notes that were popular many decades ago.  Later we got new United Methodist ones, but they had most of the songs in common.

Songs that our church sang included "Silent Night", "It Came upon a Midnight Clear", "O Come, all Ye Faithful", "O Little Town of Bethlehem", "Harlk, the Herald Angels Sing", "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen", and several others.  Here are a couple of fun facts about a couple of them.

"Silent Night" was an emergency song.  It turns out that, at least to the most popular legend, mice had eaten through the leather bellows for the pipe organ at the church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg in Austria in 1818.  The lyrics, already written by one Father Mohr were given to Franz Gruber for him to write the music.  Since the only instrument available was Mohr's guitar, Gruber kept the music simple.  Or at least that is how this possibly apocryphal story goes.  As far as I can tell, there is no contemporaneous historical record of it.

As for "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen", (often titled, incorrectly, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"), we have to look at how English used to work.  At the time (mid 1700s), one of the meanings of "to rest" was "to make" or "to keep".  Thus, wishing someone to rest merry literally means to for them to stay or to become happy.  We tend to think of "merry" in the song as an adjective describing the gentlemen, but it is not, but rather part of an idiom of the time describing the desired state of being of the gentlemen, not that they were merry in the first place.  In modern English, the meaning is more like "Let God allow you to rest, merry gentlemen."  By the way, "ye" is just improper usage.  "Ye" is the subjective plural for "thou", the old and now almost obsolete familiar form of "you".  In those days, the objective form of "ye" was "you", just like it is the objective form of "you" in modern usage.  No educated person of the time would have made that error.  It is thought that the "ye" was substituted later, perhaps to make the song seem more ancient.

Now, in "O Come, all Ye Faithful", the usage is correct.  A modern translation of the title would be "You who are faithful, come one and all".  Well, it is correct if translated that way.  However, if one uses a more likely translation, it would be "All of you who are faithful, come".  That puts "you" as the object of the preposition "of", and so thus "ye" would be incorrect.  We use the implied "of" all the time.  I just did it as an example, because "all the time" is actually shorthand (shorttounge?) for "all of the time".  English is truly a wonderful, complex, and difficult language!

Back in the 1960s when you thought of popular culture and Christmas, Andy Williams came to mind first.  He and his wife, Claudette Longet, had Christmas specials for many years and my family would always watch them.  Mr. Williams departed this realm this year on 25 September, and Ms. Longet is still with us.

Here he is miming "O Holy Night" on one his Christmas specials.  It sounds to be the identical recording from the aforementioned album.  

One of my favorite songs from that album is the Maurice Chevalier rendition of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas".  From the sound of his voice he was fairly old when it was recorded, but it has a simple charm that I really like:

One of the classic Christmas songs is the Irving Berlin piece, "White Christmas".  Of course, Bing Crosby made the song famous in the motion picture Holiday Inn from 1954.  Regardless of what the You Tube line says, the film was made in 1954, not 1942.  I do not have an embed for it, but here is a link.

Speaking of Bing Crosby, here is a very strange number of him performing "Little Drummer Boy" with, of all people, a 30 year old David Bowie!  Who would have thought that those two would have ever recorded anything together?  By the way, Crosby died in October of 1977 before the Christmas special, his last, was aired in December.  I am sure that this piece is mimed.

Back to the Goodyear album, this rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" by the celebrated operatic singer Richard Tucker is outstanding.  What most people do not know is that before he took to the opera, he was a professional cantor and that his actual name was Rivn Ticker.  No matter, this is one of the most wonderful performances of this song of which I am aware:

Tucker also did a wonderful version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" on that album as well.  I have only the link because the embed code was available only in the new format.

That about does it for me tonight.  I shall stay around for comments as long as traffic warrants.  I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and I mean no insult to people of other faiths, or of no faith, when I say it.  I myself am not a person of faith, but I take no offense when people wish me well, regardless of the time of the year.  I truly hope that everyone understands that in my well wishes to you.  There is something about this time of year when it just seems to mean a little more, that that predates all of the major religions.  During this period around the solstice with the long nights and short days, sending a little cheer (and receiving it) seems to mean a little more.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and recs for (27+ / 0-)

    wonderful songs for a wonderful time of the year?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:53:32 PM PST

    •  Thanks, everyone, for (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, SherwoodB, Otteray Scribe, Lujane

      hitting that little button that make this make the Recommend List!  I am not allowed, nor or you, to add the tag, but I really appreciate your consideration.

      Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:01:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bowie/Der Bingle...singing live (8+ / 0-)

    the music might be canned but they're either the greatest lip syncers ever or else it's live.

    Let's ask David!

    •  Both of them were by then (6+ / 0-)

      very old hands at miming.  I did not mention in the text, but the female singing part in "White Christmas" was not even done by the actress on screen!

      That would be an interesting question for Mr. Jones.  By the way, he changed his name from David Robert Jones to David Bowie (pronounced "boy") because of David Thomas Jones (Davy Jones) of The Monkees!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:28:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice collection (6+ / 0-)

    of songs, and especially the back stories, most of which were unfamiliar to me. By the way, I love it when you use the word "whilst". Christmas good wishes to you.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:21:38 PM PST

    •  You comment often, so (5+ / 0-)

      you know that I really like back stories, even if they are not always true.  In regards to your second thought, I wrote about using words like "whilst" not long ago, here.

      Warmest regards and all of my best wishes to you and yours as well!

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:30:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Fairy tale of new york (7+ / 0-)

    The Pogues classic is considered, at least in Ireland, as the greatest Christmas song of all time. I would attach it but am not capable on my current device.

  •  Lovely selection (4+ / 0-)

    I'll offer this cover of Blue Christmas by First Aid Kit

    Disclaimer: If the above comment can possibly be construed as snark, it probably is.

    by grubber on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:40:31 PM PST

    •  Thank you for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grubber, Otteray Scribe, Lujane

      the contribution!  My preference for this, and all of my pieces, is to get the conversation started and allow my valued readers to contribute as much as they want to contribute.

      I do not remember you from before, but please know that I value people who read, think, comment, and go to the trouble to find something to add.  My pieces are very much more rich because of contributions of folks just like you!

      Happy Christmas, and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:45:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What is that single manual (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grubber, Otteray Scribe

      organ in the video?  If you read much of my music pieces you know that keyboard instruments fascinate me.  It almost looks like the musician is pumping it with her feet, but she could also be using a foot operated bass bar.

      The instrument looks to be old, but might just be a bit road weary.  The song in interesting, yet a different version of an old classic.  Lots of folks think that Presley's version is the epitome, but I find it very lacking.  He was way too much into amphetamines to feel much by the time that he recorded it.

      Any information that you can provide about that instrument would be appreciated.

      Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:54:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, Otteray Scribe

        These are two Swedish sisters singing in what I assume to be their house. Here is a link to another video of them with keyboard in their garden. It gives a better view of the instrument.
        http://youtu.be/...

        They do tour, but I don't think this instrument goes beyond the backyard.

        Disclaimer: If the above comment can possibly be construed as snark, it probably is.

        by grubber on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:11:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is DEFINATELY (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grubber, Otteray Scribe

          a foot pumped, single manual organ.  I shall call my good friend and see if he can identify it.  That instrument is likely over 100 years old.

          Thank you for the better view of it!  The women are easy on the eyes as well!

          Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:20:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  An Old Gaelic Carol: "Christ Child Lullaby" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, mideedah, Otteray Scribe

    or "Taladh Chriosda" written from the point of view of [Catholic] Mary musing on her new babe.

    The verses were written by a Hebrides isles preacher in the 1800's. 3 are sung here, there are over a dozen. The hymn seems to be getting around in the US a little recently.

    The melody is from a traditional lament for a Highland clan chief. There are quite a few variations on this very simple melody; as a Celtic trad player, my connections and sense suggest that this is likely the original trad tune. Every note of it fits with the oldest material.

    Makes me visualize the manger among the rocks where the snowflake reposes.

    The indecipherable 2nd verse is not Gaelic but lowland Scots, middle Englishy, basically same language in "Auld Lang Syne."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:50:15 PM PST

    •  On the seminal record (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, mideedah, Otteray Scribe

      Quadrophenia, the liner notes joke that all of the band members' mums live in houses that they bought for them on the Outer Hebrides!

      At first glance, the singer looks a whole lot like Bill Clinton!

      Thank you for the contribution!

      Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:58:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some number of decades ago (4+ / 0-)

    My family had a Christmas album that was a collection of songs recorded by various people: Sammy Davis Jr., Diahann Carrol, Steve and Edie, and so on.

    I played that record all the time, even outside of Christmas. The memories are fading now, but back then I could replay it in my head, song by song, word by word.

    There has to be a better way.

    by lotac on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:06:30 PM PST

    •  That sound a lot like the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotac, SoCalJayhawk, Otteray Scribe

      one to which I referred.  All of the ones that you mentioned were on it.  Apparently Goodyear did this a lot.  I wish that I still had it.  Look closely at some of the YouTube embeds and see if the cover jogs a memory.

      It looks like I may have a Christmas not completely alone.  My surrogate family welcomes me, and my friend's mum told me the other day that she loves me.  I have not a lot of material things to contribute, but at this time of year just being in the presence of loved ones is more than enough.

      Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:13:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A similar but different collection I think (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, Otteray Scribe

        For one thing, I am quite sure there was no Lord's Prayer on the one we had. And it was not a "Volume 5", but a standalone album. There must be many such albums from the era.

        Regardless, have a good Christmas, stay safe and warm.

        There has to be a better way.

        by lotac on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:18:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Happy Christmas Doc (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, ExStr8, Otteray Scribe

    My best wishes to you and all your loved ones.

    many of the American and Northern European Christmas songs talk about winter and snow. I always liked "it's Christmas-time in the city", where the city could be Los Angeles where I grew up.

    my favorite performance of the classic Christmas songs is http://www.amazon.com/...

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:07:14 PM PST

    •  Who is the female counterpart (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe

      to ole Bing?  As an aside, I understand that he was an extraordinarily difficult person with whom to work, but that might be incorrect.

      Now, wait a minute!  One of the verses of "Silver Bells" says "hear the snow crunch"!  Not in my Los Angeles!  I lived in Pasadena for almost a year and LOVE that part of the country.

      Thank you for the kind wishes, and I wish you Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:16:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Re: 1942 or 1954 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, binkycat, Otteray Scribe

    I just checked IMDB.  Holiday Inn is from 1942 (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, b&w), 1954 is the year of White Christmas (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, technicolor).

    Of the two, Holiday Inn is so much better.

    "If you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get better ideas." John Scalzi

    by SoCalJayhawk on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:16:20 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)

      I had the two confused.  I very much appreciate it when my readers take the time and trouble to set my "facts" straight.  I never intentionally try to mislead, but as a fallible human I get things wrong all of the time.  Note that I included the "of", as we discussed in the main text!

      Happy Christmas and warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:23:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, Otteray Scribe

        ...for the diary (and many of your past ones as well).  I just had to look it up because Holiday Inn didn't feel like a '50s movie (if you know what I mean).

        And a Merry Christmas to you!   (Not to mention a Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year, Happy Twelfth Night --- even sticking with the old traditional English ones there's plenty of reason to shorten it up to Happy Holidays!)

        "If you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get better ideas." John Scalzi

        by SoCalJayhawk on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:56:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  And I'm a bit annoyed ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, binkycat, Otteray Scribe

      ...that we can't embed the scene from Holiday Inn.  Bing playing a piano and singing in front of a warm fireplace is a much better setting for this song than as the conclusion of a big Broadway-style variety show.  

      So instead I give you his erstwhile partner, with another of the great movie introductions of a Christmas song.  (Don't miss the beginning with the alternate lyrics sung by William Frawley.)

      "If you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get better ideas." John Scalzi

      by SoCalJayhawk on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:31:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Laotian refugee Lai Youtittham (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Ekaterin

    Learned guitar when he was in a refugee camp.  The American Army Captain who ran the camp had some electric guitars and taught the young refugee to play.  It was not long before the musical prodigy outstripped the mentor.  Lai now lives in Vancouver.  In most of his videos, he keeps his face hidden.  He still has family in Laos.

    Here he plays Silent Night on guitar and ukelele. This will send cold chills up your back.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:51:53 PM PST

    •  Please be well, my (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe

      friend!  I have many difficulties to disentangle, but things are better than a couple of weeks ago.

      Warmest regards, and time for my melatonin now,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:55:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe in Father Christmas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    This Greg Lake composition has always appealed to me, both for melody as well as lyrics at this time of year:

    U2 has covered this (and I love U2...) but the original version here is my favorite.

    •  I remember that very much! (0+ / 0-)

      Now, from some of some of the same folks, is a wonderful, rocking rendition of a classic.

      Those guys were GOOD!  Their version of the American classic written by Aaron Copeland, "Rodeo" may the best one ever.

      Warmest regards, and Happy Christmas!

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 11:54:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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