This is the time of year when almost everyone is playing Christmas music. Love it or hate it, there is no escaping it. There are people like my mother, my sister, and my aunt who can’t get enough of it, and there are people like me who believe there is a time and place for everything. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it.
I think it comes from working retail during the Christmas season. I had Christmas music in my ears the week before Halloween. One year, on June 26, I told my boss there was six months until Christmas. Where was the Christmas music? He wasn’t amused. There was another year I worked two retail jobs. From 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 or 10:00 at night it was Christmas music. That sort of thing wears on you. On nights I worked alone, I changed the radio station to the Celtics game. There were people who came into the store and were grateful for the break from the Christmas music, even if they weren’t sports fans. I was glad I could help them out.
There are some songs I like more than others. Everyone has their favorite Christmas Carols. With Christmas around the corner, I decided to share some of mine.
Good King Wenceslas
This is one of my father’s favorite Christmas carols. I thought it was okay until one time I heard the full version telling of the good king and his page braving the elements to bring Christmas cheer and warmth to a poor man. Then I really got into it. It’s cold and windy, and the page wants to turn back. Good King Wenceslas urges the page to continue with him. The song is based on Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia.
The song is set to the melody of a popular spring song (“Tempus adest floridum”) from the 13th century. John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore wrote the lyrics we know in 1853.
O Holy Night
I like this song. I think it comes from a year I played Joseph in a Christmas pageant, and this was my cue. I would be in bed falling asleep with the radio on like I did when I was a kid, and the song would come on. It was a nice mental break from thinking about having to go to school the next day. Fun fact: The original name for this song was “Cantique de Noël”, and there are rumors that the song’s composer was, ironically, an atheist.
“O Holy Night” was based on the poem “Minuit, chrétiens” by Placide Cappeau, written in 1843. Composer Adolphe Adam (the supposed atheist) set the poem to music four years later and we have the song we know today. One of my favorite renditions is from “South Park”.
Snoopy’s Christmas vs. The Red Baron
Anything with Snoopy is worth a watch in my opinion. My favorite scenes in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” all involve Snoopy (eating bones while reading the newspaper, dancing on Schroeder’s piano until being noticed by Schroeder and Lucy, and doing the animal sounds). I’m not even sure how I came across this roasting chestnut. It was probably something I randomly found on the radio.
If you’re not familiar with the encounters between Snoopy and the Red Baron, our courageous canine is constantly flying his doghouse engaging in dogfights (no pun intended) with arguably one of the greatest flying aces of the first World War. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” dedicates a scene to Snoopy and The Red Baron battling for air supremacy.
In this carol, performed by The Royal Guardsmen, Snoopy is called upon neutralize “The Bloody Red Baron” on Christmas Eve. Snoopy preps his plane (or doghouse) in minus-40-degree conditions. One finds the other in the sky among church bells pealing below.
The Chimney Song
This is a funny, morbid song that a select few adults will appreciate and enjoy. The song is taken from the “Twisted Christmas” album by Bob Rivers and his Comedy Corp. In the song, a child is up all night waiting for Santa Claus, who never shows up. No one in the house can understand why Jolly Old Saint Nicholas didn’t visit. They also can’t understand why the dog keeps barking at the fireplace or where that weird smell is coming from. Again, the song is morbid, but it’s funny.
The Twelve Pains of Christmas
Another Bob Rivers selection. This song takes the most common complaints people have of the Holiday Season and turns it into a fun-loving parody of spending time with relatives and dealing with bratty children. I first heard this song when I was in high school. A friend of mine and I would constantly tell each other, “She’s a witch, I hate her.” (That’s part of the song.)
What is your Favorite Carol?
So, there is a list of my favorite songs for this time of year. Everyone has their favorite song that has a special memory for them, or you just like a song for your own reasons. Merry Christmas!
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