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.
From 2018. Sadly, this church building burned last year, but the church continues . . .
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.
Merry Christmas! May God’s Love indwell you today and always.
- Beautiful (and humorous) embroideries.
- Zentangle + pottery.
- A quilter grows through the years.
- An Andy Warhol exhibit from two years ago. I missed this article when it was first posted, but I was happy to come across it now.
- The story behind Handel’s Messiah.
- I love libraries. Here are how some decorated for Christmas.
- The story behind “Silent Night.”
- A quilter photographs her many quilts.
- The prettiest Christmas cookies I’ve ever seen.
- Verdigogh always looks so Christmasy to me. Here’s how several artists interpreted it.
- This blog definitely gets the best reader comments. You guys are all going to have to step it up on ARHtistic License. (Let that be one of your New Year resolutions.)
- This might be too late for you, so you might want to bookmark it for next year: how to sew gift bags.
Only one more week till Christmas.
- Precision dance team.
- Pretty much everybody’s pandemic experience.
- How a bunch of people interpreted the tangle pattern XLnt.
- Wonderful music for Christmas.
- Lovely embroidered Christmas quilt.
- Beautiful family Christmas tradition.
- Writers don’t have a monopoly on block.
- How to sketch at a concert.
- You still have time to make these masterpiece Christmas ornaments. This is an old article, so some of the product links don’t work, but the video tutorial is very good, and you can use whatever supplies you can find.
- How stacked firewood inspired a quilt design.
- Awesome illustrations from children’s books.
- Crazy Christmas Zentangles!
One of the things I miss most during this pandemic is the opportunity to play in my church’s handbell choir, Ringing Praise. I love the camaraderie with my fellow ringers (they are the nicest people). The sound of bells lifts my heart, especially at Christmastime. I’ve put together a little virtual concert of Christmas music. (And if this is not enough for you, you can listen to the handbell post I put together last December.)
Joy to the World:
Solo: Angels We Have Heard on High:
All I Want For Christmas Is You:
Sing We Now of Christmas:
Fum, Fum, Fum:
A Midnight Clear: A Christmas Nocturne:
We Three Kings:
The Bell Daze of Christmas:
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
For your listening pleasure during this holiday season, here are some of the best ever performances of some of the best ever Christmas music. I hope you will bookmark this article and listen to a little bit every day this month.
I was introduced to Handel’s Messiah when I was in high school. It was a tradition for our premier chorus, the Tower Singers, to sing the Hallelujah Chorus, along with all chorus alumnae, at the annual winter holiday concert. I go to live performances of Messiah whenever I can. (Not this year, of course.)
Another favorite for Christmas is The Nutcracker Ballet. We went as a family several times when our children were young.
When I attended Duquesne University, our Music School Chorus performed Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata. I still get chills when I hear it.
Benjamin Britten wrote this lovely Ceremony of Carols:
J.S. Bach Christmas Oratorio:
Here is just one small portion of Hector Berlioz’ L’Enfance du Christ:
British composer John Rutter has written many carols. You may want to visit this playlist from his Christmas Album.
Edward Elgar, best known for “Pomp and Circumstance,”played at graduations, also wrote this beautiful “A Christmas Greeting”:
Camille Saint-Saëns wrote this Oratorio de Noël:
- Make a quilt from your travel photos.
- Do you know musician Bret Blackshear? Lovely guitar picking.
- Precious family moments captured.
- Here’s a list of holiday albums from a few years ago. If you can find them, they may be on clearance. . .
- Some interesting Zentangle tiles.
- Day of the Dead quilts.
- For the writers: some writing prompts.
- Velásquez’ Bacchus.
- Animal sculptures in Branson.
- What are you passionate about?
- Will the trick-or-treaters be coming to your house tomorrow night?
- I love this pumpkin wisdom.
- An adorable Halloween quilt.
- A different kind of mask from the ones we’re all wearing right now.
I never heard this lovely carol to the tune of “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella” before last year.
You know those $5 bins of CDs they have at Walmart? I always take a peek in the Christmas bin in case there’s a gem in there I don’t have yet.
This year I treated myself to Sarah McLachlin’s The Classic Christmas Album, and I am obsessed with it. I’ve listened to it every day since mid-November. It is so good, and it is not your typical Christmas album, though there are many classics on it. It’s her more unusual choices that blow me away. Her version of Prayer of St. Francis moves me to tears, as does her rendition of River, Joni Mitchell’s haunting and depressing winter song (can’t really call it a Christmas song).
I’ve written about my favorite Christmas CDs before, and I don’t want to repeat, but there are a couple I could add to the list, as well as the Sarah McLachlan one.
About 20 years ago I was wandering around the mall at Christmas time (Remember malls? That same mall is dead now. Sigh.) and a gift store was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and the most beautiful music was playing—hammered dulcimer, mandolin, fiddle, recorder, harp. I commented on it, and the salesperson showed me the CD they were playing, which I promptly bought: Colonial Holiday. My husband spins wool into yarn on a spinning wheel, and he likes to spin with this CD playing.
Speaking of instruments you don’t hear every day, how about handbells? The Magic of the Bells was recorded in 1996 by the French ringers known as Les Sonneurs. It contains some carols and other stuff, like a couple of Lennon/McCartney songs.
And, yes, this is repeating, but I absolutely love Mary, Did You Know from Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas to Me:
I used to be an elementary general music teacher, and every year we would have a winter concert, and I would cram in as many Kwanzaa, Channukah, winter and generic holiday songs, and Christmas carols as I could. My ten most favorite carols (most going back to my own childhood) are:
- O Holy Night (I had a Jewish principal who requested it every year. “Can we do the one that goes, ‘Fall on your knees…?’”)
- Breath of Heaven
- I Saw Three Ships
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel (technically an Advent song)
- Carol of the Bells
- Coventry Carol
- We Three Kings
- Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
- Joy to the World (technically a Second Coming song)
- Silent Night
What about you? Is there special music you like to listen to (or sing) during the holidays? What are your favorite carols? Share in the comments below.