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Songs - Christmas

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Angels We Have Heard On High
   was written by   
James Chadwick
He translated it in 1862 from a traditional French carol "Les Anges dans nos Campagnes" (The Angels in our Countryside). It is commonly sung to the hymn tune "Gloria" as arranged by Edward Shippen Barnes. In the chorus "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the Highest) the sung vowel sound "o" of "Gloria" is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence: Glo-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-ri-a in Ex-cel-sis De-o!
Away in a Manger
   was written by   
John Thomas McFarland
1887 first two verses are from an unknown author in 1885 and McFarland wrote the third verse two years later. Song first appeared in a Lutheran Sunday school book authored by James R. Murray in 1885. Two different melodies are used. In Britain "Cradle Song" by William J. Kirkpatrick is used whereas in America "Mueller" by James R. Murray is used.
Carol of the Bells
   was written by   
Peter Wilhousky
He wrote the lyrics in 1936 while working for The American network NBC radio. Also called the Ukranian Bell Carol. it was adapted from "Shchedryk" by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych first performed in 1916 by students at Kiev University. It was later performed in 1921 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Deck The Halls
   was written by   
The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes in the 19th Century. the tune is an old Welsh air first found in a musical manuscript of John Parry Dall an 18th Century Welsh harpist. the probable author of the English lyrics were from an unknown American.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
   was written by   
Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne
Wrote words and music for this song in 1962 as a plaintive plea for peace during the October 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis. First recorded in 1962 by The Harry Simeone Chorale. Bing Crosby recorded it November 22, 1963 and made it a hit that year.
The First Noel
   was written by   
Generally thought to be of English origin from the 16th Century. Older versions call it "The First Nowell." First published in English in 1833 when it appeared in "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern," a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
   was written by   
First published in 1833 in England in a collection of seasonal carols collected by William B. Sandys called "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern." This is the carol of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" written in 1843.
Good King Wenceslas
   was written by   
John Mason Neale
An Anglican minister who was warden of Sackville College, East Grinstead, Sussex, England. he translated in 1853 a copy of "Piae Cantiones" a Swedish/Finnish book of carols written in 1582. The carol refers to St. Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia (907-935). The tune is to "Tempus Adest Floridum" ("It is time for flowering") which was a 13th century carol.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
   was written by   
Charles Wesley
A leader of the Methodist movement in England and younger brother of John Wesley. it was first published in the book "Hymns and Sacred Poems" in 1739. the tune most frequently associated with it today was based on a chorus by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
   was written by   
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Written first as a poem "Christmas Bells" in 1864 by Longfellow while in the midst of sadness over his son Charles Appleton Longfellow suffering wounds in battle in The American Civil War. It was set to music in the 1870s by English organist Jean Baptiste Calkin and to a composition written in 1845 by Joseph Mainzer. In the 1950s John Marks composed the melody we know today. Recorded by Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians, The Carpenters, Bing Crosby, Kate Smith, Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte and Sarah Maclan.
It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
   was written by   
Edmund Hamilton Sears
Written by Sears then the pastor of the Unitarian Church in Weston, Massachusetts as a poem in 1849 and music was added in 1850 by American musician Richard Storrs Willis.
Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
   was written by   
Myra Hess
Hess was an English pianist who translated the chorale which ends each part of the cantata "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life") by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was written in Leipzig for the Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary and first performed for that feast day on July 2, 1723. Recorded by the band Apollo 100 as their 1972 hit "Joy."
Joy To The World
   was written by   
Isaac Watts
"The Father of English Hymnody" wrote this among his 750 hymns. he wrote this as part of "The Psalms of David Imitated" in 1719. In 1836 the music was adapted and arranged by Lowell Mason from an older melody believed to have originated with Handel.
The Little Drummer Boy
   was written by   
Katherine K. Davis
Wrote this for "Carol Of The Drum" in 1941 which was transcribed from a traditional Czech carol. Henry Onorati in 1957 and Harry Simeone in 1958 arranged versions of this song that we know today. Kenny G released an instrumental version on his "Miracles: The Holiday Album" in 1994
Lo, How A Rose E're Blooming
   was written by   
Theodore Baker and Harriet R. Spaeth
1500's. Baker in 1894 (stanzas 1-2) and Spaeth in 1875 (stanza 3-4) translated a traditional German carol from an unknown German author. The Music, "Es Ist Ein Ros',", comes from Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng, 1599. Harmony was added to the melody by Michael Praetorius in 1609.
Mary's Boy Child
   was written by   
Jester Hairston
A West Indian song written in 1956. It became a UK #1 hit for Harry Belafonte on November 22, 1957 and again a UK #1 hit for Boney M on December 9, 1978. Other recordings by The Brothers Four, Charlotte Church, Harry Connick, Jr, Nina & Frederik, Jim Reeves, The Merrymen and the Pete King Chorale. In 1956 Mahalia Jackson recorded it under the title "Mary's Little Boy Child"
O Come All Ye Faithful
   was written by   
John Francis Wade
Written in 1743 as "Adeste Fideles" and later published in 1751 in Wade's publication "Cantus Diversi." Also included in the 1760 edition of "Evening Offices of the Church" and in 1782 "An Essay on the Church Plain Chant" by Samuel Webbe. The modern version was a combination of Frederick Oakley's translation of the original first four verses and the rest being translated by William Thomas Brooke. Country singer Toby Keith sings it on his 2007 Christmas album "A Classic Chrismas. The pop/rock band Hanson recorded it for their 1997 album "Snowed In."
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
   was written by   
John Mason Neale
An Anglican minister who was warden of Sackville College, East Grinstead, Sussex, England who translated the lyrics of a 12th Century Latin text (Veni, Veni Emmanuel) The text of the song comes from Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." the traditional music may either stem from a 15th Century processional for Franciscan nuns or from 8th Century Gregorian origins. It is customarily used as an Advent hymn.
O Holy Night
   was written by   
John Sullivan Dwight
Original music composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight christians) by Placide Cappeau. John Sullivan Dwight was an American Unitarian minister who translated the carol into English in 1855. On December 24, 1906 Canadian inventor, Reginald Fessenden sent out an AM radio broadcast from Brant Rock, Massachusetts consisting of a violin rendition of "O Holy Night" and a Bible verse. This made the carol probably the first carol ever broadcast on radio.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem
   was written by   
Philip Brooks
Written as a poem by this Episcopal priest in 1868 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his church. He was inspired to write it from a visit to Bethlehem in 1865. The American melody was composed by Lewis Redner the organist at Brooks' church from his composition titled "St. Louis." The United Kingdom version is an adaptation by Ralph Vaughn Williams of the English tune "Forest Green."
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
   was written by   
Robert L. May
May and his brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the words and music respectively in 1947. May created Rudolph in 1939 while working for the American retail chain Montgomery Ward. A cartoon short produced in 1944 by Max Fleischer for the Jam Handy Corporation was Rudolph's first theatrical appearance. An animated version of the Rudolph story was made for television in 1964 featuring Burl Ives as the singing snowman. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P.
Silent Night
   was written by   
Father Josef Mohr and Franz X. Gruber
Written in German as "Stille Nacht" for guitar by Father Mohr and music by Franz Gruber in 1816. First performed on Christmas Day 1818 in the Nicola-Kirche (Church Of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria by Father Mohr on guitar. It has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects around the world.
Silver Bells
   was written by   
Ray Evans
First sung by Bob Hope to Marilyn Maxwell in the 1951 film "The Lemon Drop Kid." The bells refer to The Salvation Army bellringers on each street corner with their red kettles for Christmas cash donations. the music of the song was composed by Jay Livingston.
Sleigh Ride
   was written by   
Mitchell Parish
Created by Leroy Anderson as a light orchestral composition during a heat wave in August 1946. Lyrics were written in 1948 by Mitchell Parish. As an instrumental it was first recorded by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra in 1949. Johnny Mathis made the first vocal recording in 1958.
We Three Kings Of Orient Are
   was written by   
John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
He was a minister who wrote in 1857 the lyrics and music for it for a Christmas pageant for the General Theological Seminary in New York City. he first published it in his "Carols, Hymns and Song" in 1863.

Facts contributed by:

Allan R. Matthes

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