From Oxford professor and renowned British composer, a joyous account of the history behind our favorite carols.
Everyone loves a carol-in the end, even Ebenezer Scrooge. They have the power to summon up a special kind of mid-winter mood, like the aroma of gingerbread or the twinkle of lights on a tree. It’s a kind of magic.
But how did they get that magic? Andrew Gant-choirmaster, church musician, university professor, and writer-tells the story of twenty of our favorite carols, each accompanied by lyrics and music, unraveling a captivating, and often surprising, tale of great musicians and thinkers, saints and pagans, shepherd boys and choirboys. Readers get to delve into the history such favorites as “Good King Wenceslas,” “Away in a Manger,” and “O, Tannenbaum,” discovering along the way how “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” came to replace “Hark, how all the welkin’ ring” and how Ralph Vaughan Williams applied the tune of an English folk song about a dead ox to a poem by a nineteenth century American pilgrim to make “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
A charming book that brims with anecdote, expert knowledge, and Christmas spirit, this is a fittingly joyous account of one of the best-loved musical traditions.
I was so excited to get this book after all it combined Christmas Carol’s and History. However, I was a bit disappointed as the writer lost me on several occasions with phrases and information that went WAY over my head. As I do not have a degree in linguistics nor in music theory I was lost a few times. That said I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. I just wish it had been written with more of the general public in mind.
As I said previously I did find the historical aspects of the book very enjoyable but multiple times I had to stop and look something up so I could understand what the author was saying in the development of the carols over the years. I will say that if you enjoy history and you don’t mind taking time to look things up then you will like this book. But if you are looking for more simple stories of how we got our most common carols then you will be disappointed and I would not recommend this book to you.
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