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 Post subject: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:55 am 
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My parish has four different Masses for Christmas, three of which have a different choir assigned to them. Each year, since there is WAY too much Christmas music to choose from, we try to do a themed Christmas for each Mass (in the past couple of years, they have been nationalities—for instance, "A French Christmas," with pieces from the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio, Berlioz's "Shepherd's Farewell," and carols like "Angels We Have Heard on High"). This year, I'm directing the high school choir and i am trying to introduce them to early music. Not just chant, but also early polyphony. In any case, I have plenty of music for the choir to choose from, but I'm having a bit more trouble with carols for the congregation to sing. So far, I have these:

Good Christian Men Rejoice (14th c.)
Of the Father's Heart Begotten (16th c.)
Resonet in laudibus (14th c.)
The First Nowell (13th-14th c., possibly as old as 11th c.)
Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming (16th c.)

I'm a little worried about the congregation knowing these; we have a sort of standard repertoire of hymns, but I don't know if these are a part of it. I'll have to ask the music director. In any case, do you all know of any more well-known Christmas carols written before the 17th century?

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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:32 am 
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Good King Wenceslaus is has "modern" lyrics but is an old tune. It might not be what you're looking for, though.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen dates from the 15th century.

Might I suggest Alma Redemptoris Mater (since it is the traditional antiphon sung at Compline during Advent and Christmastide)?

What Child Is This?, like "Good King," has modern lyrics but an old tune.

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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:00 am 
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Pepsuber wrote:
Good King Wenceslaus is has "modern" lyrics but is an old tune. It might not be what you're looking for, though.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen dates from the 15th century.

Might I suggest Alma Redemptoris Mater (since it is the traditional antiphon sung at Compline during Advent and Christmastide)?

What Child Is This?, like "Good King," has modern lyrics but an old tune.

Thanks, Pepsuber! I like Good King Wenceslaus and What Child is This?, but they're not really for Christmas proper (rather, about St. Stephen's Day and Epiphany). As far as God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, I was thinking that, too, but it looks like the earliest publication is in 1760, when it's described as being a "new carol for Christmas." We will definitely be singing the Alma Redemptoris Mater, though. We always do the Marian Antiphon after communion. :cloud9:

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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:13 am 
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Prodigal Son of Thunder
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I think you can safely count on the congregation knowing "Good Christian Men Rejoice" and "The First Nowell" -- at least the tunes. And I'm sure that even modern hymnals have the words for the latter, if not the former.

Are you going to be singing the Mass parts as well?

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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:18 am 
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Pepsuber wrote:
I think you can safely count on the congregation knowing "Good Christian Men Rejoice" and "The First Nowell" -- at least the tunes. And I'm sure that even modern hymnals have the words for the latter, if not the former.

Are you going to be singing the Mass parts as well?
As long as it isn't "Jingle Bells" when the bells are rung at the Consecration! That would be grossly un-cool.


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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:43 pm 
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I see Lo, How a Rose is Blooming on your list. Excellent choice. I absolutely love that one.

May I suggest:

The Holly and The Ivy is an old, well-known one (a personal favorite), and probably fits the bill.

The Boar's Head Carol is old too, but probably not religious enough.

Some claim Angels We Have Heard on High goes back as far as 129 A.D., but there's a lot of doubt about that. It's origins probably only date back to the 1800's.

There's one that I think is pretty old, called The Golden Carol, but I can't find any information on it. I know it exists because I used have piano sheet music for it.

The lyrics go something like this: We saw a light shine out afar, On Christmas in the morning, And straight we knew it was Christ's star bright beaming in the morning, Then did we fall on bended knee, on Christmas in the morning, And prais'd the Lord, who'd let us see His glory at its dawning . . . watermelon, watermelon . . . who bore for us both grief and shame, afflictions sharpest scorning . . . watermelon . . . and may we die On Christmas in the morning, And see heaven, our glorious home, that Star of Christmas morning . . .

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 Post subject: Re: Early Christmas Carols Needed
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:45 am 
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Coventry Carol - acc. to wikipedia, dates fr the 16th c.

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