“Away in a Manger”

Another Christmas Alliance post.

Away in a manger,
no crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
lay down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky
looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus,
asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing,
the poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever,
and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children
in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven,
to Live with Thee there.

Much better tune than what this song is usually sung to throughout most of the US. The tempo the snippet below is played at is too fast for singing the song properly, but the tune’s beautiful and works much better with the lyrics when sung at a proper tempo~75-100bpm (max).

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“Beautiful Savior”

It’s been a tradition for years in our home to isten to the St Olaf’s choirs Christmas concert on PBS (my Wonder Woman’s parent were alums, so it added a special lil something when we first began watching–long story). A highlight of the concert has always been the performance of “Beautiful Savor”. The performance embedded here is not by a St Olaf’s group. It’s an (as yet) unidentified all male chorus singing altered lyrics I’d not heard before. (See my note after the jump if you want).

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In the Bleak Midwinter/The First Noel

I’ve long been ambivalent about the Gustav Holst tune with Rosetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter,” but only because it seemed jarring with the last verse (more on that another time), but as a piece of music–and for all but the last verse of the poem–I appreciate it greatly. Here’s “Celtic Woman” in an absolutely beautiful instrumental rendition of the Holst tune followed by a solo/choral performance of “The First Noel”. The lyrics are followed by the performance, as usual.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And… This version by Dan Fogelberg

In the Bleak Midwinter* – Dan Fogelberg

Ding Dong Merrily on High

As part of The Christmas Alliance, today’s offering is “Ding Dong Merrily on High”. This Christmas carol has been one of my favs since I first heard it played by The Canadian Brass. Before, I had always heard it sung way, way too slowly and its joyous nature had been buried in the inappropriate tempos. Do note that the Jon Schmidt (yes, him again :-)) rendition streamed below is NOT suitable as accompaniment for singing. For one thing, quite apart from changes in rhythms that would make singing along impractical, the actual tempo of the melody is still too slow, but the pulsing rhythms Schmidt has added move the piece as a whole ahead at a joyous pace. His treatment is similar in that regard to the John Darnell treatment of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” I cited earlier this Advent season.

Ding dong merrily on high,
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with angel singing.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

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

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

North Pole Express (Ding Dong Merrily on High) – Jon Schmidt / French Carol

Again, if you liked the performance, please visit Jon Schmidt’s site and purchase a copy to take along with you “Over the river and through the woods… ”

And be sure to check the special lil present beyond the jump…

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Still, Still, Still

I’m not quite sure why, but many of the Christmas songs, carols, “anthems” even, that I enjoy a great deal are lullabys. The first Christmas song I wrote–back in the day when I wrote at least one a year for my annual “Christmas cards”–was a lullaby, and most of the Christmas songs I wrote up until I stopped doing so were lullabys. I suppose the fact that I wrote my first Christmas song after I’d experienced the miracle of holding my own children, sometimes singing them to sleep–sometimes–may have something to do with it. And I suppose the paradox of the incarnation made so glaringly obvious in Philippians 2:5-11 has something to do with it as well.

Still, Still, Still
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.

Still, Still, Still – Jon Schmidt / German Carol

Another Jon Schmidt rendition, this time a full ersion. If you like it, take time to CLICK on through to his site and purchase some mp3s. Mash up your own CD or purchase one of his to download.

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The Star Carol

The Alfred Burt Carols have rightly earned a place in the Christmas repertoire of choirs around the world. Words by Wihla Hutson and music by Alfred S. Burt wedded beautifully have been a part of twc central’s Christmases long, long before there was a “twc central.” In another Christmas Alliance post, here’s the first verse of The Star Carol, with the rest of the words at the link and a snippet of another beautiful performance by Jon Schmidt in place of voices for the music. (Note: the musical snippet starts about the last couple of musical phrases, continues with the first two. You’ll probably be able to figure it out. :-))

Long years ago on a deep winter night,
High in the heav’ns a star shone bright,
While in a manger a wee baby lay,
Sweetly asleep on a bed of hay.

The Star Carol

The Wexford Carol

As part of The Christmas Alliance, today’s offering is The Wexford Carol, piano performance by Jon Schmidt.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His belovèd Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn
There was a blest Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide
The noble virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass:
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble oxen stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
“Prepare and go”, the angels said,
“To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely Babe, sweet Jesus born.”

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God’s angel has foretold,
They did our Savior Christ behold.
Within a manger He was laid,
And by His side the virgin maid
Attending to the Lord of Life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.

Wexford Carol – Jon Schmidt / Irish Carol

(And do see below the fold)

Trackposted to The Pink Flamingo, Leaning Straight Up, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Allie is Wired, Democrat=Socialist, Woman Honor Thyself, and The World According to Carl, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Christmas Alliance 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT! The Carnival of Christmas is up. Kat has done a beautiful job of rounbding up and presenting a wonderful collection of Christmas posts. Merry Christmas!

NOTE: This is a “sticky post”; for newer posts, see directly below. From now until Christmas, it’ll be all Christmas music, all the time, here at third world county. No longer “sticky” as of 12-26-08.


To participate in this year’s Christmas Alliance, see Kat’s post.

Christmas Break

Peaceful Christmas afternoon. A nice lunch of my Wonder Woman’s Swedish meatballs on egg noodles and some snowpeas, notalot else. Lovely Daughter brought some ‘special” hot cocoa mix–no tedious boiling and frothing of milk and chocolate today: today is an official “Third World County Central No-Stress Day”–as we’ve tried more and more to make our family gatherings.

Wonder Woman, Lovely Daughter and Son & Heir (yeh, just wait til he sees what he “inherits” *heh* “S&H, You need to change your dad’s diapers again… ” *LOL*), listening to Christmas music that S&H made available, Just started another batch of beer (the wort’s at a boil and will steep and cool for a bit after a while), sitting here at the kitchen computer (a PC-BSD box) just letting the ambiance bathe my spirit.

*sigh* More days like this would always be welcome, ya know?

Oh, didn’t manage to keep the ECTV (the entertainment center box with a decent amp and speakers attached) off today. But we’re not watching the dam*ed thing (yeh, that’s a theological hypothesis). S&H hooked up his XBox 360, cos he loaded several hundred megs of Xmas* mp3s on it and is using it as a temporary media server shooting them through the sound system, managing the “jukebox” with the TV.

Nice of him. I used to just burn a couple of new mix CDs. I guess I ought to see about building a media pc and running some Linux-compatible media software/hardware with it.

Of course, I could attach a real sound system to this lil kitchen PC-BSD box and program Kaffeine with a playlist…

Well, that sort of thing will just have to wait for a day that’s not today. Need to post this, get back to just basking in the family glow for a while longer.

Merry Christmas!

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