Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, in excelsis deo (wherever that is), it’s Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.
And particularly with the choir of carol singers from the high street in our town now having dissipated.
But church services go on unabated and the original spirit of Christmas sometimes sneaks past Mariah Carey and Michael Buble.
And so a celebration of carols, their origins and the destinations with which they’re associated.
Or Silent Night which originates in Oberndorf bei Salzburg.
No, not that Salzburg of Mozart and The Sound of Music in Austria but the small city north of Salzburg.
It does though have it’s own blessed place in music as the birthplace of one of our favourite carols.
Mohr and Grober may not be as recognisable as Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein, King & Goffin, Lennon & McCartney or John and Taupin.
But the assistant priest, and the schoolmaster and organist certainly hit on one with this classic on the Christmas Eve of 1818.
It travelled around the world and got the ultimate seal of approval when Bing Crosby sold 10 million copies in 1935.
Feliz Natal as they say in Portugal.
Or O Come all ye Faithful (except they say it in Portuguese) and not this southern US draw… though Carrie on Ms Underwood.
We have King John IV to thank for it becoming Anglicised (the Portuguese are England’s most enduring ally).
The clue to King Johin IV’s musicality is in the moniker he was given King John The Musician.
His works (he is also said to have written a setting for a Good Friday standard Crux Fidelis) alas were destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.
Of course Portugal is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.
Talking of secrets, I’ve just been watching the original Jesus.
Well the blockbuster televisual one, anyway, Robert Powell retracing Our Lord’s steps on the Smithsonian channel.
And spoiler here.. he may not have been born there but rather his childhood home Nazareth.
The song would be very different, or would it be? Nazareth scans too.
The carol we so love, is actually an American construct.
With it written by Phillips Brook, an Episcopalian minister, then a rector in Philadelphia, and later of Boston, in the 19th century.
And sung beautifully here by The King himself.
Ding Dong Merrily On High
Sounds very English village hall, but mais non, Ding Dong Merrily On High is a French Joyeux Noel, ditty.
The tune was originally recorded in the 16th century by Dijon‘s finest Jehan Tabourot in his study of French Renaissance social dance called Orchésographie.
Ca va, English composer and campanologist George Ratcliffe Woodward updated it with the old ding dong that we all enjoy.
Now randomly we can’t think of anyone better to sing or rather trill it than Roger ‘The Whistler’ Whittaker.
Deep pan crisp and even
OK, we’ll get the old Christmas Cracker joker out first.
What pizza does Good King Wenceslas like?
Deep pan crisp and even.
Whether the Good King first looked out on the Feast of Stephen and the snow laid round about deep and crisp and even we don’t know.
But Wenceslas Square in Prague is usually packed at this time of year, and on most days.
It might be different this year with Covid which is all the more reason to toast our Czech friends with an Urquell. Na Zdravi.
Take it away Bing…
Merry Christmas and sing along to yourself with your Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.