August 10, 2020

Year ’round Christmas Music

I love Christmas music. Not, mind you, most of the cheese that passes as Christmas music, sung by artists knowing they can make a quick buck by whipping out a few “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire” stanzas. (I especially love Jewish singers, like Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, putting out Christmas albums.) I love Christmas music that is unique enough to be listened to year ’round.I have been known to listen to the Chieftains’ Bells of Dublin or Sara Groves’ O Holy Night albums in the heat of July.

Now I can add another to this list. Advent at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is a collection of chants these sisters sing in their daily offices during the advent season. This is perfect music to listen to as you light your advent candles and read from the Old Testament prophets in preparation of the coming of Emmanuel. But it is timeless enough that you may find yourself listening to it in the heat of July as well.

I will be playing a selection from this tonight during Nightsounds on Broken Road Radio, starting at 9 p.m. Central. In the meantime, here is an introduction to these sisters and their love of singing.

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  1. The only Christmas music that I’ve found that I could listen to year round would be the Christmas albums by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a trio of rock opera albums. My favourite track of which would likely be Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 ( Probably not for everyone, but it works for me.

  2. Richard Hershberger says

    I apologize in advance for the pedantry:

    ” I love Christmas music that is unique enough to be listened to year ’round.”

    Huh? The traditional meaning of “unique” is ‘one-of-a-kind.’ The more common use nowadays is to mean ‘unusual’: hence “very unique”. This is fine. Usage manual advice notwithstanding, words which apparently represent absolutes are used this way all the time. The US Constitution itself speaks of a “more perfect nation.”

    That being said, I am left scratching my head at “Christmas music that is unique enough to be listened to year ’round.” Being unusual is not normally a trait we ask for in our everyday music. Quite the opposite, we often favor comfortable familiarity. So I think perhaps you mean music that is ‘good’ enough to listen to year round, but I’m not sure.

    Since I am being all pedantic at the moment, I’ll go ahead about point out that Advent music and Christmas music are two different things. ‘O come o come Emmanuel’ is Advent music. ‘Hark the herald angels sing” is Christmas music. The one is looking forward to an event, the other is celebrating the event which just occurred.

    Finally, consider the Christmas Lullaby by Arvo Part:

    • Odd that you mention the usage of words, as coincidently our the sermon at our Christmas Carols service last week brought up the same thing, with our guest speaker being an ex-english teacher wanting to save words and their original meaning, starting with unique, proceeding to awesome, and finally leading into the word promise for the focus of the talk. Nothing really to say about it, just thought it was unusual, timing wise.

      As for everyday music, while I do tend to favour a few chosen genres, I prefer variety and some degree of unfamiliarity. I’d probably end up skipping most Christmas/Advent songs on my playlist as they are too familiar, regardless of their quality. For me at least, bands that are ‘unique enough’ allow me to experience familiar music in unfamiliar ways.

      Also Jim and (I’m assuming) Broken Road Radio, you are awesome! No one I know listens to them, though they seem to popular in other countries.

  3. Trans-Siberian Orchestra? …we do that!