Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrating the Season!

My dear friend Molly @ Counter Cultural Mom is hosting a blog carnival. I had heard of these but I had no idea what they entailed. Little did I know how easy they were! Uh oh! Watch out world! Anyway, Molly's blog carnival is Celebrating the Season. She asked us to share our favorite Christmas music and books.

My favorite Christmas carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The lyrics were written by Charles Wesley, who was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. However, the tune was originally very solemn. A hundred years later, Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate the invention of Johann Gutenberg's printing press. It was the English musician William H. Cummings who took Mendelssohn's composition and adapted it to Wesley's lyrics.

My reason for loving the carol is more simple than it's history. When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a music box. It was a silver angel that spun in place. The song it played was Hark the Herald Angels Sing. There are many modern versions available. Charlotte Church has a gorgeous voice. I find her rendition the most enjoyable.

As for Christmas literature, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a must read. If you have only watched the movie, you are missing out! Written in 1843, Dickens wrote the book to revive his dwindling checking account and instead revived the dying Christmas traditions in Victorian England. That's quite an accomplishment! Shortly thereafter, Queen Victoria began sending out official Christmas cards. Victorians were excited about celebrating Christmas again because of one book. If you are looking for a book on tape to travel with this season, I suggest A Christmas Carol narrated by Patrick Stewart.

Of course, Dickens went on to write four other Christmas books. They are filled with strong moral messages. Worth reading for older students, I would not suggest them as a read aloud for younger ones. Of the other four Christmas books, I enjoyed The Cricket on the Hearth, but nothing can match Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I am sure that's why it sold six thousand copies in one week. Quite a feat in those days.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Thanks for sharing, Chris! I love what you wrote about Hark the Herald Angels Sing! I ordered a book this Christmas season that tells the history of some of the Christmas Carols and I can't wait to get it!

I love Patrick Stewart's voice! My favorite audio version of Christmas Carol is the Focus on the Family Radio Theater version. We listen to it every year.

I remember enjoying Cricket on the Hearth, as well, but you are right: nothing tops A Christmas Carol. We also see an excellent musical play based on the book in the city every year, and it is one of our season highlights!