Music is something very special, personal and affects our feelings, the mood and helps us to express ourselves. Hence, it is something that should not be missed during this time of the year! Music adds something mystical and festive to the Christmas time. There are many Christmas carols all over the world and are played on the radio, at home, on television or in all the shopping malls, trying to bring those Christmassy vibes.
The first Christmas carols were written and composed between the 11th and 14th century by Christians to celebrate the Nativity. Today’s Christmassy folk songs originated between the 18th and 19th century and there are new songs every year. With the time, the original meaning of the songs changed and they are less focussed on the Nativity nowadays. They are more used for commerce and consume than symbolising the actual ‘reason’ of the Christmas time. Songs as ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘The Power of Love’ or many more are now played on the radio in eternal loops annoying each and every one listening. Older songs slowly pass into oblivion.
One of the oldest and most famous traditional Christmas songs all over the world is ‘Silent night’ (= Stille Nacht; Douce Nuit; Noche de Paz). This song is translated into around 300 languages. The Austrian priest and poet wrote the lyrics in 1816. Two years later, on the 24th December 1818, he asked the organist Franz Gruber to compose the musical part for two solo singers, a choir and guitar. In 1825, the organ builder Karl Mauracher took the notes of the song with him to Tirol and the ‘Tiroler Sängertruppen’ carried it into the world from there. Many different very famous artists covered the song and translated it into their language.
Three of my favourite Christmas songs are ‘It’s Christmas time’ (Band aid 1984), Happy Xmas (War is over)’ (John Lennon, 1971) and ‘Mary Xmas Everybody’ (Slade, 1973). Another great son is ‘O Holy Night’ performed by the King’s Choir from Cambridge.
Band Aid was a band project founded by Bob Geldorf and Midge Ure with the aim to collect money for the victims of the hunger crisis in Ethiopia. Some of the supporters and members of the original Band Aid members on 1984 were Bono (U2), Paul McCartney, George Michael, Duran Duran and many more. John Lennon’s song ‘Happy Xmas’ originated 1971 as protest song against the Vietnam War. The lyrics are set to the English ballad ‘Skewball’ and it’s UK release was delayed for one year. However, the song reached number four in the UK and has since become a Christmas standard. ‘Marry Xmas Everybody’ was written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, singer and bassist of the British rock band ‘Slade’. The song was the bands sixth and las number one Song in the UK Single Charts and stayed in the charts for nearly three months. According to an interview with the Daily Mail, Noddy Holder stated that they decided to write a Christmas song that reflects the British family Christmas at that time. Economically the country had many problems and the people in general were unhappy with their situation. Hence, they, as well as the band themselves, need something to cheer them up. That’s how the line ’Look to the future now, it’s only just begun’ originated. After Jim and Noddy wrote the song as acoustic version, the drummer of the band was injured in a car accident which lead to him remaining in a coma for almost a week. After his recovery, the band was able to finally record the song.
As this post is a music related one, I created a Christmas playlist on Spotify where I’ll add upto 24 songs that I think should not be missed for the Christmas time 🙂 Just look for ‘aspecialtime_blog’ and ‘Christmas in music’.
There are many really beautiful Christmas songs that make the Christmas time a special time and remind us all that there are also other people that are not as lucky as we might be, suffering from war, political crises, hunger, illnesses or other misfortune. The carols are a reminder of how lucky we are, they cheer us up and try to bring joy and peace to everyone.