Well, Thanksgiving is over and a lovely time it was, too. All the band members were here, the food was great and the company better. More about that below. And, of course, since it’s the beginning of the Christmas season, it’s the time when we start rehearsing our Christmas show again.
We first started performing this over a decade ago and we tried very hard to find material that was a bit less-known but also had that holiday feel. So, to honor the religious aspect of the season we have a number of songs around the Bethlehem theme; Jake Thackray’s ‘Remember Bethlehem’ may be my favorite. The story is imagined in a more familiar setting than far-off Palestine, so all the flora and fauna — a simple metaphor for all creation — is more native to the British Isles than the Middle East.
I know your nightingale remembers it still
Your pussywillow and your daffodil
Even the stony old hills
And Mary herself — never mentioned by name until the last verse — is described”
It was ever so cold
She was far away from home
She was not very old
She was only a shabby little country girl
In a similar vein, The Hub of Eternity by Geoffrey Turner sees the story from the point of view of the shepherds and is told in Northern English dialect:
It were cold out on the hillside
The frost gleamed on the rocks
‘Twere a night for thermal undies
And wooly, hand-knit socks
‘Rug Muire Mac do Dhia’ (Mary Bore a Son to God) and Do’n Oíche Úd i mBeithil (To That Night in Bethlehem) continue the story with two old Irish carols.
Cynthia has written a tune for us, the Deck the Hall Reel, and Jean contributes The Hogmanay Hornpipe. (Hogmanay is New Year’s Eve in Scotland.)
Mike gets to sing a couple of songs — Christmas in Brooklyn, by the redoubtable Erik Frandsen, and BeBop Santa Claus. Both of these songs are squarely in the secular end of the spectrum and great fun. And Brian adds the instrumental tune The Blue Ducks — a favorite of mine.
There’s a bunch a tunes with Christmas in the title, a goodly number with bad weather in the title and all-in-all, it’s a nice mixture of reverent, miserable, silly and fun.
The show is a little different every year, but we try to hang on to the favorites — it is a time for tradition, after all!
So here are few tunes songs for you to listen to — hope you like.