Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of December: Recap & List of LOATHES

What a fun month it's been! All my favorite Christmas music playing 24/7! Here's the list of my faves from the past month of blogging:
O Holy Night
Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong album
Christmas in Killarney
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
In the Bleak Midwinter
The Birthday of a King
White Christmas/Whiter than Snow
Mary, Did You Know
Do You Hear What I Hear
Breath of Heaven
I Wonder as I Wander
The Perfect Tree
O Come All Ye Faithful
In The First Light
The Little Drummer Boy
The Secret of Christmas
Offering/Offering (Christmas)
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Away in a Manger
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Ding Dong Merrily on High
I Saw Three Ships
We Three Kings
Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)
How Many Kings
Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away
Sheep May Safely Graze
Dona Nobis Pacem

And now, for the much awaited treat of the day.............

Feliz Navidad (any version…annoying and OVERPLAYED!)
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Jackson Five…annoying)
All I Want for Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey…OVERPLAYED!)
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting one…SO OVERPLAYED!)
Rudolph (ugh!)
Frosty (enough already!)
Santa Baby (yuck!)
Little Saint Nick/Man with All The Toys (Beach Boys…ANNOYING)
12 Days of Christmas (so repetitive)
War Is Over/So This Is Christmas (depressing)
Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime (DRIVES ME CRAZY!)
And because they are overplayed, even songs I used to like are getting to me:
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
White Christmas is actually getting on my nerves…overplayed!
Last Christmas
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Silver Bells
Blue Christmas
Jingle Bells

It's been a lot of fun thinking about music all month. I hope you've enjoyed the journey!

Friday, December 30, 2011

30 Days of Christmas Music!!

Today's song is a tough one to see, it's the last of my Christmas song selections! Tomorrow I plan to recap the songs as well as give a special treat...tune in tomorrow to see what I have in store.
Although neither of these are "Christmas songs," both are on several Christmas albums, and both are dear to me.

"Sheep May Safely Graze" by J.S. Bach is SO beautiful! I loved it so much that I had my mom and mother-in-law walk in while it was played at my wedding. I've heard string quartet versions and brass ensemble versions. I have never heard a recording of it that I didn't like. Although there are lyrics, I have heard the song most often just instrumentally. Here are the only lyrics I could find:
"Sheep may safely graze and pasture in a watchful Shepherd's sight.
Those who rule with wisdom guiding bring to hearts a peace abiding
Bless a land with joy made bright."

The other song is "Dona Nobis Pacem, " a song I sang in choir years ago. The three interweaving harmonies are exquisite!! It's a song that makes me wish I could sing all three parts at once. The words are repeated throughout the song, and they mean "Give Us Peace." I've enjoyed the version on A Winter's Solstice IV and I believe John Rutter incorporated the song into a choir anthem I sang once.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 29

I can't believe Christmas Music Season is almost over! I will certainly miss it...but what fun it will be to start again next November.
Today's song is "Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away" by Amy Grant (actually written by Roger Cook and Wayne Jackson.) I haven't thought about this song much this year because the song starts out:
"Little bits of heaven
Floating gently by the window
Soon this dirty city will be
Covered with a new snow
Let's put on our winter boots
Go outside and play
Christmas can't be very far away"
and we've had NO snow so far this December! I'm not complaining...the van sure stays cleaner without salt on the outside and sloppy boots on the inside...but I do love the "little bits of heaven" imagery...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28!

Ooops...did I fall off the face of the Earth? Nope, I traveled across NYS to visit my in-laws for Christmas. And the idea of blogging from my android phone was not very appealing.
So here are my Christmas music selections for the past 6 days:
23 - "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"
My favorite verse is below...I LOVE the imagery!
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

24 - "Ding Dong Merrily On High"
This seems like a silly song that kids giggle listening to, but I love when the "glorias" intersect in harmony. Celtic Woman's version is spectacular!

25 - "I Saw Three Ships"
I absolutely love to sing this song ON Christmas Day. In the morning. Really! Sting's version of this song is very cool. And how beautiful are the last few verses:
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

26 - "We Three Kings"
I have loved this song my whole life, but it became a favorite when I was in about 10 years old. I played this song on the clarinet and the harmony lines were SO beautiful! Now I can't sing this song without hearing the harmony in my head.
Here is my favorite verse:
Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

27 - "Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground" by Chris Tomlin)
This is a newer song, certainly not an ancient hymn, but both the lyrics and the music are beautiful!
What hope we hold this starlit night
A King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
That leads to the hallowed manger ground

What fear we felt in the silent age
Four-hundred years can He be found
But broken by a baby's cry
Rejoice in the hallowed manger ground

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel

The son of God, here born to bleed
A crown of thorns would pierce His brow
And we beheld this offering
Exalted now the King of kings
Praise God for the hallowed manger ground

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel

Oh, praise His name Emmanuel
Oh, praise His name Emmanuel

28 - "How Many Kings" by downhere
If you've read my recent facebook updates, you've seen that I've FALLEN IN LOVE with this song! A friend posted it last week and after I heard it just one time, I knew I'd found a real gem. The melody, the harmonies, the lyrics...all amazing! Lyrics are below, but I urge you to go find the live studio version on youtube!!!
Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we've projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother's shawl -
Just a child -
Is this who we've waited for? 'cause...

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we've waited for?

All for me...
All for you...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 22

Today's song takes me back to childhood...gathering around the piano at my grandparents' house with my grandmother sitting at the piano. "Away in a Manger" is a simple song, often sung by children, but it's beautiful and sincere...there are two different tunes the lyrics can be sung to, and I'm still not sure which is my favorite. Although I'm sure there are countless recordings of "Away in a Manger," I like it best sung from the heart, by children.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid 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 Baby awakes,
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 fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

day 21

I wasn't a huge fan of this song when I was a child, but I really love it now. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is a traditional English carol from the 1800's. According to Wikipedia,
"There is some confusion today about the meaning of the first line, which seems archaic to our ears. It is usually given today as "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", with a comma after the word "merry", so does not refer to "merry gentlemen". "Rest" here denotes "keep or make," with "you" as the object of "rest;" "ye" which gives 16 definitions of the word, some going back to the 10th century, all having to do with pleasure or enjoyment. In both of the 18th-century instances, "you" was used instead of "ye," suggesting that the latter may be a modern insertion to make the carol sound more quaintly archaic."
In any event, the tune is interesting because it is minor much of the for versions of this song, there are a bazillion! I love the ones by: MercyMe, Glee (LOL I know, but it's a great one...especially the bridge), Barenaked Ladies did a Peter, Paul and Mary-sounding one, August Burns Red has a CRAZY rockin' one, Straight No Chaser has a pretty groovy one, my new favorite group downhere has a terrific one, Steven Curtis Chapman, Canadian Brass, Orla Fallon (of Celtic Woman), Sissel, Kim Hill has a beautiful one on guitar, Mannheim Steamroller, Steven Sharp Nelson (the cello dude on The Piano Guys), and another lovely guitar version on A Winter's Solstice V. Could I pick a favorite? No, not likely! But look at the words below in bold...pretty profound!

On another website, Hymns and Carols of Christmas, I found 9 (yes NINE) verses:
1. God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day.

2. In Bethlehem, in Jury,
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger,
Upon this blessed morn;
The which His mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn.

3. From God our heavenly Father,
A blessed angel came.
And unto certain shepherds,
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born,
The Son of God by name:

4. Fear not, then said the Angel,
Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Savior,
Of virtue, power, and might;
So frequently to vanquish all,
The friends of Satan quite;

5. The shepherds at those tidings,
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a feeding,
In tempest, storm, and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway,
This blessed babe to find:

6. But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereas this infant lay
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray:

7. With sudden joy and gladness
The shepherds were beguiled,
To see the Babe if Israel,
Before His mother mild,
O then with joy and cheerfulness
Rejoice, each mother's child.

8. Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood,
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas,
Doth bring redeeming grace.

9. God bless the ruler of this house,
And send him long to reign,
And many a merry Christmas
May live to see again;
Among your friends and kindred
That live both far and near.

Alternate Chorus:

That God send you a happy new year,
Happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

20 days of beautiful music

Although this isn't technically a "Christmas song," it appears on numerous Christmas albums by various artists. (It also appears on many baby/lullaby albums and wedding play lists.) "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by J.S. Bach is, musically, an incredibly intricate piece. I loved learning to play it on the piano when I was a child...actually, I still like to play it! Some of my favorite recordings include: George Winston (December album), A Winter's Solstice (first album), Amy Grant (starts quietly with guitar, then triangle and single drum, then pennywhistle...but builds and builds with bagpipes with Celtic flair, adds full orchestra...I dare you to listen to it without tapping your foot!), Canadian Brass (very non-traditional version, with a surprisingly lovely-sounding clarinet!), Josh Groban, Celtic Woman (the harmony is extremely close together, ethereal, and goosebump-producing!), the beautiful Norwegian Sissel, and the list goes on and on. I am unable to find my all-time favorite is sung by a man, but after listening to 30+ versions via Spotify, my search results are coming up empty!
I found several versions of lyrics, although the piece has certainly been performed instrumentally many times as well.

Here are the most commonly heard English lyrics:
Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,

Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.

Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

A close-to-literal translation of the original German:

Well for me that I have Jesus,
O how strong I hold to him
that he might refresh my heart,
when sick and sad am I.
Jesus have I, who loves me
and gives to me his own,
ah, therefore I will not leave Jesus,
when I feel my heart is breaking.
—from BWV 147, Chorale movement no 6

Jesus remains my joy,
my heart's comfort and essence,
Jesus resists all suffering,
He is my life's strength,
my eye's desire and sun,
my soul's love and joy;
so will I not leave Jesus
out of heart and face.

—from BWV 147, Chorale movement no. 10

Monday, December 19, 2011

18 & 19

Today's post is really two posts, for days 18 & 19. OK, so it's one post, but two songs...or two versions of the same song.
I love "Offering" as I first heard it by Paul Baloche singing with Tim Janis and friends. The lyrics are beautiful, the melody easy to learn. I definitely "feel" worshipful when I sing this song to God.
Then I heard there was a "Christmas version" and I fell in love with the song even more! I've listed the "Christmas version" lyrics below...we sang it in church yesterday, and I hear it on the radio (Casting Crowns version) all the's so beautiful!

Offering (Christmas) by Paul Baloche
Over the skies of Bethlehem appeared a star
While angels sang to lowly shepherds
Three Wiseman seeking truth they traveled from afar
Hoping to find the child from heaven
Falling on their knees they bow before the humble Prince of Peace

We bring an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord I bring an offering to you

The sun cannot compare to the glory of your love
There is no shadow in your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It's only by Your blood
It's only through Your mercy
Lord, I come

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord, I bring an offering to you

We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you
We are an offering to you, Jesus

We are an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord, we bring an offering to you

O Lord, we bring an offering to you

We bring an offering to you
We are an offering to you
We are an offering to you

Sunday, December 18, 2011

For Yesterday - Day 17

Day 17
This is a little-known song, but when I sang it at Claverack Elementary School (many, many years ago), it spoke to me. “The Secret of Christmas” was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for Bing Crosby.
I could only find a few recordings, notably by Julie Andrews, Bing Crosby, SHeDAISY and a new-to-me and wonderful acapella arrangement by The Vocal Majority. The message of the song is very meaningful:

The Secret of Christmas

It's not the glow you feel, when snow appears
It's not the Christmas card, you've sent for years
Not the joyful sound, when sleigh bells ring
Or the merry songs, children sing

Yeah the little gift you send, on Christmas day
Will not bring back the friend, you turned away
So may I suggest, the secret of Christmas
It's not the things you do, at Christmas time
But the Christmas things you do all year through

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 16 - Christmas Songs

Oh my goodness this is getting tricky! Not because I can't think of Christmas songs I love, but because I don't know if I'll have enough days to talk about each one!! :)
Today I'm picking a classic, one that I loved since childhood: "The Little Drummer Boy." I think the first time I heard this song was on a record (yeah, you know, a big black vinyl circle)...I think it was by the Harry Simeone Chorale...the record case had all the songs with their lyrics on the back of the cover...I would listen to the album over and over, studying the words, learning the less known 3rd and 4th verses to songs like O Come, All Ye Faithful, Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and What Child Is This? When I heard, "The Little Drummer Boy," I would feel a little sad and very serious...there is such an emotional element to this song! The lyrics tell a great story, and the way the chords change is very special.
My favorite versions of this song include Harry Simeone Chorale, Bob Seeger, Celtic Woman, and the Glee Cast.

The Little Drummer Boy by Katherine Kennicott Davis
Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fifteen Days of Fa La La

Ten days until Christmas? How can it be?! I am truly savoring every moment...what a wonderful time!!!
Today's song is a less popular one, but when I heard it the other day (for the 1st time in about 20 years!), I was deeply's called, "In The First Light." I first heard this song in the 1980's, the original acapella version by the group Glad. I always liked the song, but it took on new meaning earlier this week. The song begins simply and then builds with each verse. By the end, it's like a triumphant trumpet fanfare and it makes my heart skip a beat...I get goosebumps all over and I can't help but sing along! Of course I had to check out the other recordings of this beautiful song...Todd Agnew paired it up with "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and it's a very rich recording, with full accompaniment. Point of Grace has an acapella version that is truly spectacular. I urge you to go listen and be blessed!

In The First Light
by Glad
In the first light of a new day
No one knew He had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a newborn softly cried

But the heavens rapt' in wonder
Knew the meaning of His birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to earth

As His mother held Him closely
It was hard to understand
That her baby not yet speaking
Was the Word of God to man

He would tell them of His Kingdom
But their hearts would not believe
They would hate Him and in anger
They would nail Him to a Tree

But the sadness would be broken
As the Song of Life arose
And the Firstborn of Creation
Would ascend and take His Throne

He had left it to redeem us
But before His life began
He knew He'd come back
Not as a baby but as
The Lord of every ma

Hear the Angels as they're singing
On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will their song be
When He comes again, when He comes again

Hear the Angels as they're singing
On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will their song be
When He comes again to Earth

When He comes, When He comes
When He comes to rule the earth

When He comes back
When He comes back
To Rule the earth

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Music - day 14

I'm realizing I should have saved, "O Holy Night" for was my Gram's all-time favorite, and today is her birthday. The last Christmas we celebrated with her was in 2002 and I am missing her a lot today.
Another Christmas song she loved was "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and that will be today's song. Also known as "Adeste Fideles," this song has some mystery surrounding its authorship (the most likely composer being John Francis Wade.) This song has been recorded by hundreds of artists, some of my favorites being Amy Grant, Bing Crosby, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Anne Murray, Martina McBride, Glad and Enya. (Can you believe Twisted Sister also recorded this song?!!)
** addendum: i just went on "spotify" and found a GAZILLION more versions: Jeremy Camp, Casting Crowns, Celtic Woman, Chris Tomlin, Chris Rice, Matthew West and Phil Wickham are all amazing!! Even Take 6 and Weezer have great arrangements!!
What I love most about this song is the way the chorus is often sung in unison on the first line, with layers of harmony added with each line. I also LOVE singing alto on this song...

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created:

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God
In the highest:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13 days of Christmas music

"The Perfect Tree" by Ray Boltz was introduced to me about 10 years back. The entire CD, titled A Christmas Album, is chock full of greatness, both musically and lyrically. "The Perfect Tree" has stuck with me because it hits close to home...regarding that perfect Christmas tree: "mother wants a straight one, the children want it tall. Dad just hopes that somehow he can get it down the hall. Soon they'll gather round it proud as they can be. But when they're looking at it I wonder if they see..."
I often will put quotes from this song on my Facebook page to remind myself to keep my focus in the right place.
Ponder these lyrics and let them touch your heart.

The Perfect Tree - by Ray Boltz & Steve Millikan
The ornaments are ready
The place has been prepared
Strings of lights and holly
Are draped across the chair
The family's all together
I know where they must be
Everyone is searching
For the perfect tree

The perfect tree
Grew very long ago
And it was not decked with silver
Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches
Was a gift for you and me
Jesus laid His life down
On the perfect tree

Mother wants a straight one
The children want it tall
Dad just hopes that somehow
He can get it down the hall
Soon they'll gather round it
As proud as they can be
But when they're looking at it
I wonder if they see

CHORUS (repeat)

With all the celebrations
Sometimes the truth is lost
That every step this baby took
Brought Him closer to the cross

CHORUS (repeat 2X)

Monday, December 12, 2011

9, 10, 11, 12

Ooops, looks like I was a little busy and missed a few days of the Christmas music posts!
So here's a quick list of a few more of my faves:
day 9 - "Mary, Did You Know"
I LOVE the whole song, but when it crescendos on the bridge, I get head to toe chills every time!!! Kenny Rogers version and Kathy Mattea's arrangements are my favorites.

Mary, Did You Know - Originally written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.

Day 10 - Do You Hear What I Hear
I loved this song as a child, and I still love it today. It was been recorded by dozens of musicians, but I love the Whitney Houston and the Martina McBride versions the best.

Do You Hear What I Hear - by Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne Baker
Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

Day 11 - Breath Of Heaven
The first time I heard this song, I cried. I still get teary when I hear it. I love Amy Grant's version the best, and I will never forget when my cousin sang it at Christmas one year.

Breath of Heaven - Chris Eaton & Amy Grant
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary, with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done
Holy Father you have come
And chosen me now, to carry your son.

I am waiting, in a silent prayer
I am frightened, by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now.

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy,
Breath of Heaven.

Do you wonder when you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am for the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong, help me be strong,
Help me be strong, help me.

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.

Day 12 - I Wonder As I Wander
This is a song that I truly detested as a child. It seemed so slow and boring. I remembering having to play it on the piano for my lessons and it was drudgery! But at some point, the song began to mean more to me. Now I love listening to its melancholy, almost haunting tune. I have heard many versions, but I think my favorite is by starts out acapella with two-part harmony, then builds just a little bit with strings.

I Wonder As I Wander - by John Jacob Niles
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eight Days of Christmas Music

Well, it FINALLY snowed, so I can FINALLY write this's song is White Christmas!!!
Written by Irving Berlin and made unforgettable by Bing Crosby, this song just feels like Christmas! I have always loved it, and although it was been covered by a GAZILLION other people, the Bing Crosby version is definitely the one that "feels right."
I did hear an arrangement by Twila Paris about 10 years ago...she did a mash up of White Christmas and Whiter Than Snow and it quickly became a favorite of mine.

Whiter than snow, whiter than snow
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow
Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day Seven

One of my favorite Christmas memories from childhood is of my mom's brother and their mother singing "The Birthday of a King" (actually, I think my grandmother played the piano and my uncle would sing.) The whole family would be gathered together at my grandparents' house in Connecticut. My dad's mom would join my family of five on our journey to CT and there we would celebrate with my mom's parents, her brothers, sisters-in-law and my cousins (5 girls, plus the 3 in my family gave my grandparents 8 granddaughters: 4 redheads, 2 blondes and 2 brunettes.)
We always ate delicious meals mom would tell us to take it easy on the cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktail. We would have pretty dresses on, with bows in our hair. We would use our best manners as we gathered at the table, set with the fancy plates and lace tablecloth and candles. Usually when dinner was finished, we would go into the living room for some singing time. My grandmother would take her place on the piano bench (and I would turn pages for her), and we would begin singing...hymns, carols, old songs and new arrangements. We would sing in unison and in harmony. It was beautiful! Every year, my uncle would get up and sing...I can't hear this song without thinking of our time in my grandparents' living room:

The Birthday of A King - By William Harold Neidlinger

In the little village of Bethlehem
There lay a Child one day
And the sky was bright with a holy light
O'er the place where Jesus lay.

Alleluia! O how the angels sang
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light
'Twas the birthday of a King.

'Twas a humble birthplace, but O how much
God gave to us that day

From the manger bed what a path has led
What a perfect, holy way.

Alleluia! O how the angels sang
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light
'Twas the birthday of a King.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the the 6th Day

In The Bleak Midwinter - Christina G. Rossetti/Gustav Holst
1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

4. 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.

This song moves me tremendously...the lyrics are exquisite...verse one is so haunting and lonely. And the last verse, oh my heart!!
I don't have a "favorite arrangement" of this song, but I do like to play it on the piano and sing it in my head and heart. (Ok, if no one is home, I like to sing it out loud, too.) I am most familiar with Twila Paris' pretty version of this song. I do like Sarah McLachlan's less traditional melody in her arrangement, and I just today discovered the Indigo Girls' version, with acoustic guitar and richer harmony.
My hope every Christmas season is that the last verse would be in the front of my mind.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Four and Five

Yesterday was super busy so I never got the chance to share my pick of the's post will count as days four and five:
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is definitely a long-time favorite of mine. I would listen to it over and over on the old Amy Grant's "A Christmas Album" from 1983. Actually, my uncle had the LP record and made me a cassette tape of that album!! I love the way Amy Grant starts the song simply, then adds to it little by little. The harmonies are very traditional and pleasing to the ear. The final verse is very regal...I picture a cathedral processional, much like a royal wedding or coronation.
Recently, I was introduced to Jewel's version of this song...and it gave me some serious goosebumps! Her ethereal voice paired with the acoustic guitar to start is lovely. When she changes up the melody line at the key change on "Hail! The heaven-born prince of peace", I could cry it's so beautiful!
I just did a Spotify search of this song and I'm blown away at the number of recordings!! From She-Daisy to Straight With No Chaser to John Tesh to Disney to VeggieTales to Charlotte Church to Chris Botti to Willie Nelson and the list goes on (and ON!) And who wouldn't love Trans-Siberian Orchestra's mash-up of "The March of the Kings" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"?!! SO powerful with the rockin' guitars and drums!!
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is clearly a classic Christmas song that isn't going to be forgotten anytime soon.

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Charles Wesley (music by Felix Mendelssohn)

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the 3rd Day of Christmas Music Posts

So yesterday's choice was quite melancholy, today is just the opposite: Christmas in Killarney!!!
Go ahead, laugh. I know you're laughing.
I just played every version of that song ever recorder, thanks to Spotify ;) and it DROVE MY HUSBAND CRAZY! It's a super happy song, quite Irish, and I love it!! Although I don't think I have any Irish blood in me,
my hair is red and I have lots of freckles.
My favorite color is green.
I love Celtic music.
My favorite artists include Enya, U2 and Celtic Woman.
And in Spring 1992, I pledged Sigma Gamma Phi (Arethusa) whose colors are green and white.
I first heard "Christmas in Killarney" on my Anne Murray "Best of the Season" Christmas CD about ten years ago. I fell in love with the song immediately, with its skippity beat, fife and fiddles. It's quite the perfect music for decorating the tree, hanging lights or dancing around the house.
There are many versions of this song, but I think my favorite is Anne Murray's (although Bing Crosby has a nice arrangement as well.) Written in 1950, it definitely has an "oldies" feel to it. Go give it a warned, you may have to dance a little!

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
Is Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, you know, to kiss your beau
While cuddling under the mistletoe
And Santa Claus you know, of course
Is one of the boys from home

The door is always open
The neighbors pay a call
And Father John before he's gone
Will bless the house and all

How grand it feels to click your heels
And join in the fun of the jigs and reels
I'm handing you no blarney
The likes you've never known
Is Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

Friday, December 2, 2011

Music of Christmas - Day 2

I'm still working out how I'm going to post this month...last month, I just went off the top of my head with thankfulness ideas. This time, I did jot down a list of my favorite Christmas songs, just so I don't miss any, but I want to be a least a little spontaneous...
so rather than just pick a song today, I'm going with my new favorite album...which (this week) is Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" (from 2006...yes, I just discovered it last week. I'm just a tad behind the times!) And can you guess how I discovered this gem of an album? I was listening to a Christmas station on Pandora and up popped "River" by Sarah McLachlan. It was love at first listen! When my hubby introduced me to Spotify last week, I simply double-clicked on the "Wintersong" album...I've listened to it at least 20 times, start to finish, since then!!
First of all, Sarah's voice is lovely and mellow. I've always liked her music. Second, her arrangements of these songs are amazing...not copycats of the originals by any stretch. The harmonies are soothing, the acoustic guitar on "What Child is This" is very gentle, giving it a folksong feel. I absolutely love her version of Joni Mitchell's "River" - not a Christmas carol at all, but a melancholy winter song..."I wish I had a river I could skate away on..."
"Wintersong" and her cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night" are both bittersweet love songs of longing.
This album is certainly not a yippee skippee "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" kind of album. But I LOVE it when I'm in fleecy jammies with the fireplace roaring and candles burning...can't wait for a big snowstorm!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day One, all over again, but a little different

It's hard to believe, but after posting my thankfulness updates last month, I've decided to (try to) continue another daily blog...only this time, it will be all about something I neglected to mention last month:
I love,
music of all kinds.
I grew up with music...
singing along while my grandmother played the piano,
singing along while my dad played the guitar,
playing the piano,
singing at church,
playing handbells at church,
playing the clarinet,
singing at school,
and singing some more!
I am a happier person when I can listen to music, and my "favorites" change based on my activity and my mood (quiet, classical music or Enya when I'm mellow; something crazy and dancey when I'm running.) And don't get me started on the amazing times of worship I experience when singing songs of praise to God!
Christmas music is like the penultimate of music for me. I do my best to wait until Thanksgiving is over before I start listening to Christmas music, but I admit it's very hard for me!! This year, I've discovered both Pandora and Spotify to maximize my Christmas music-listening pleasure. Eureka!!
This month, my goal is to post daily about a "significant" Christmas song, whether it's the music, lyrics and/or arrangement...and the story about why it is "significant" to me.
So here is Day One of my Christmas Music month of posts:
I think my favorite Christmas song of all time is "O Holy Night" and I know: it's been a tad overplayed on the radio, a tad overdone my some artists. But this year, I discovered a new arrangement, by is a little rockish, a little edgy, but the descant/harmony on "di-vi-i-ine" gives me HEAD TO TOE GOOSEBUMPS every time!
This song is also very special to me because it was my father's mother's Gram was pretty much tone deaf, but she would sing her heart out to this song! I can still smell the leather of her gloves and feel the soft fur of her fancy coat, as we would sing together at church.
And as someone who is a follower of Christ, the lyrics are particularly powerful:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,

Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!