Tag Archives: Christmas music

Video of the Day: Messiah


Two and a half hours, but don’t let that scare you. It’s gorgeous, one of the most polished performances I’ve ever seen. You may want it playing in the background all day.

Handbells for Christmas (2022)


This is the season that calls out for handbells. Here are some wonderful performances.

Carol of the Bells, Bethel University Handbell Ensemble:

Marche from the Nutcracker Suite, Raleigh Ringers:

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Daejeon Handbell Choir, South Korea:

Silent Night, Andrea Feist:

A Christmas Medley (Hark, the Herald Angels; The First Noel; Away in a Manger; Angels from the Realms of Glory; What Child Is This; O Come All Ye Faithful; all played by a soloist identified only as Mary; also, Good King Wenceslas occurs in the piano accompaniment):

Hallelujah Chorus, Forté Handbell Quartet:

Coventry Carol,  done on handchimes:

Sing We Now of Christmas Played by the Resounding Ringers:

Glory performed by The RingNYC:

Remember the Angels played by Bells Angels. This piece was written in memory of the victims of 9/11:

A Christmas handbell and orchestra concert from South Korea. This is over half an hour long but so good; if you can’t listen to it all now, do yourself a favor and be sure to come back to it:

A Ballade on Auld Lang Syne:

Tonight I’ll be playing handbells at one of my church’s Christmas Eve services.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Videos of the Week: Bluegrass Christmas


This is a Christmas playlist from the wonderful Petersen family musicians. There are 20 videos in this playlist; they should play one after another. I hope you will come back and enjoy them all weekend.

Video of the Week: Ringing Praise


On Sunday our bell choir, Ringing Praise, played “Advent Celebration” during the service. I’m the person leading the processional.

Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden


The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the popular attractions in Phoenix (see another post about the Desert Botanical Garden). At Christmastime, the Garden is open at night, with luminarias lighting the paths (and some of the trees and cacti and sculptures are lit as well). The handbell choir I belong to at my church has a long-standing Christmas tradition of spending a December evening at the Garden, starting with a tailgate dinner in the parking lot, complete with festive desserts.

This year’s expedition took place last Friday night. We chose the date because one of our favorite area handbell choirs was scheduled to perform. They must have canceled, because when we got there, we were told the only handbells they had were on the first four nights of December. We were bummed.

There were other musical groups performing, though. A quartet of carolers serenaded us at the entrance. Further in was a string trio, Simply Three.

We caught the last song in their set. I apologize for the awkward camera angle. Their style reminds me of the PianoGuys. Actually, one of my former students turned me on to Simply Three ten years ago. They have their own YouTube channel if you want to hear more of them.

We went to Dorrance Hall where HarpSynergy was playing. We caught the last song of their set as well.

We were able to speak to one of the musicians afterward. She said their arrangements sometimes double parts, but in some of their pieces, all members of the quartet play totally different parts.

For most of the two or so hours that we were there, we walked together through the 140-acre gardens. Someone said her FitBit logged about two miles while we were there. Most of the pictures I took outside with my phone were pretty horrible, but I can give you a little idea of what it was like.


8,000 luminarias line the trails through the Garden. They are hand-lit every night, and they are also hand-extinguished (I think the extinguisher is like a turkey baster–you squeeze the bulb and air puffs out).

Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rescue agency, shared a booth with two owls and a snake.

Owl 1
Owl 2
This guy was brought to the shelter with a broken neck. He can never be released into the wild.

The full moon was gorgeous, but this was the best shot I got of it.

Moon Through the Trees

The best part of the evening was spending time with dear friends. That’s me at the end of the line in the face mask.

Ringing Praise at the Desert Botanical Garden

Johnny Marks, the Christmas Songwriter

Johnny Marks, the Christmas Songwriter

The Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago used to give way books to children at Christmas. In 1939, a catalog writer for Montgomery Ward named Robert L. May came up with an idea for a new book and wrote the story of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Montgomery Ward gave away two million copies, which were a great hit with kids, teachers, and store managers.

In 1948, May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote a song based on the book. He offered it to Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, who both passed on it. But Gene Autry recorded it, and it became a huge hit for him. Here is Autry performing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1953:

Marks went on to write many more Christmas songs, including the music for the TV Christmas Special about Rudolph, which first aired in 1964.

“A Holly Jolly Christmas”:

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, sung by Brenda Lee:

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”:

“The Night Before Christmas”:

Ironically, Johnny Marks never celebrated Christmas–he was Jewish. He passed away in 1985.

Video of the Week: Would it Be Christmas Without Pentatonix?


Merry Christmas!


Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed celebration of Our Lord’s birth. For your listening pleasure, here is a wonderful performance of Handel’s Messiah. It’s long, so you may enjoy having it playing in the background as you go about about your special day.

Video of the Week #337: Christmas Concert


From 2018. Sadly, this church building burned last year, but the church continues . . .

Handbells for Christmas, 2021 edition


One of the activities I’ve missed since the beginning of the pandemic is playing in the handbell choir in church. They started up again in September, but because of another obligation, I’ve opted out for now, though Greg and I have had the pleasure of hearing them a couple of times when we’ve attended worship in person. Here is the Desert Cross Lutheran Church Ringing Praise playing “Angels We Have Heard on High” in 2017.

I discovered a wonderful virtual handbell concert recorded last year. The program includes:

  • Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
  • O Come, O Come Immanuel (not a separate piece, but woven into a couple of arrangements)
  • Ding Dong Merrily on High
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Coventry Carol
  • Sing We Now Of Christmas
  • Rocking Carol
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Silent Night (sorry if I missed any)

And finally, I think you’ll agree that it takes careful choreography for four musicians to play the Hallelujah Chorus on handbells.

If you’re not yet all handbelled out, check out these handbell posts from 2020 and 2019.