The anticipation of Christmas

getting ready

anticipation of christmasThere’s a body of work that reflects the anticipation of Christmas. Some are more overtly religious, while others are secular.

The Dream Isaiah Saw – Washington Chorus, Here’s a post from 2009 that describes the effect on the writer. It also contains the lyrics. I’ve sung this, and it’s powerful.

Gabriel’s Message – Sting. This song, from the original A Very Special Christmas collection (1987), is either in a Methodist or Presbyterian hymnal, possibly both.

E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come by Paul Manz – The National Lutheran Choir. I’ve sung this probably two dozen times. Interestingly, though, the scripture is from Revelation, suggesting anticipation of a second coming, not the first.

The secular

River – Joni Mitchell. I will always associate this with my late friend Donna George, who was a big Joni fan.

Christmas Is A-Comin’ – Leadbelly. My father had this song on an album that I now own.

Getting Ready for Christmas Day – Paul Simon. Simon, b. 1941, samples. The sermon is from 1941, which can’t be a coincidence, can it?

This Christmas – Donny Hathaway. I miss Donny, who was a great singing partner with Roberta Flack.

Christmas Wrapping – the Waitresses. An MTV favorite. I have this buried in my vinyl collection somewhere.

We Need A Little Christmas – Angela Lansbury. Per Wikipedia: “Lansbury finally gained stardom for playing the leading role in the Broadway musical Mame (1966), which earned her her first Tony Award and established her as a gay icon.”

Please Come Home For Christmas – Charles Brown. The man from Texas City, TX (1922-1999) was thrice nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in the 1990s.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Bing Crosby. Wikipedia notes: “Despite the song’s popularity with Americans at the front and at home, in the UK, the BBC banned the song from broadcast, as the Corporation’s management felt the lyrics might lower morale among British troops.” Twenty or twenty-five years ago, I heard Kim and Reggie Harris, possibly with others, perform this at the College of Saint Rose, very close to where we live. One felt the melancholy the song deserves.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – MonaLisa Twins. They really are twins, Mona and Lisa Wagner.

Secrets of the Advent-Christmas posts

Not that Nancy Wilson

Secrets of the Advent-Christmas

We are now about to reveal the secrets of the Advent/Christmas posts for 2022. 

Most of them I put together in late August and early September when I was recovering from COVID because I couldn’t focus on anything else.

I took this list of songs and flung them into different piles. These are songs people hate, and those are the ones that are overplayed. Of course, I always have to find a STAX Christmas list.

Do I want a Motown list? I started one and then abandoned it. Nah, they don’t move me as much. And my favorite, What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder, was on a post from 2018, which I decided to link to in its entirety. I loved those Nowell We Sing Clear tracks that kick off that piece. All of the links to that post still worked as of September 1, 2022, except one, which I switched out.

The remaining rosters I wanted to share closer to, or on, the actual holiday. Thus the songs on this list are the tunes that didn’t fit in any other pile.


Merry Xmas (War Is Over) – John and Yoko and The Harlem Community Choir. This song always saddens me, as it’s always played in the same month as John’s death on December 8, 1980. 

Mary’s Boy Child · Harry Belafonte. I’ve noted that my father’s musical stylings were clearly influenced somewhat by Harry.

Louisiana Christmas Day – Aaron Neville. This is such a fun song.

The Christmas Waltz -Nancy Wilson. This is the jazz singer, not a member of Heart. I first heard of her because her albums would be pictured on the inner sleeves of my Beatles and Beach Boys albums on Capitol Records.

Carolina Christmas – Squirrel Nut Zippers. My parents moved to NC in 1974 with my baby sister. My sister’s still living there.

Christmastime Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio. Why do I find the vocals of this so affecting?

Merry Christmas, Baby – Charles Brown. A great vocalist I didn’t know until I was an adult.

2000 Miles – Pretenders. The first this I heard this, I didn’t listen fully. It’s very touching.

Little Drummer Boy (African Tribal Version) – Alex Boye’ ft. Genesis Choir. This is also touching, and the family’s situation is quite believable these days.

Hamildolph! (An American Christmas Story) – Eclipse 6. A Hamilton parody, 100% a cappella.

You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch. “Written and composed for the 1966 cartoon special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The lyrics were written by Theodor ‘Dr. Seuss’ Geisel, the music was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft.”

Check out Kelly’s Daily DoseDaily Dose of Christmas

Advent / Christmas music 2019

I LOVE Thurl’s voice

Christmas House Advent CalendarOK, NOW I’m getting into the Advent season. Music is the linchpin for almost everything. Jaquandor has his Daily Dose of Christmas. Someone else posted The Top 100 Christmas Songs, some of which may be replicated below. I’m OK with that.

Since I finally saw Hamilton this year, I should post Hamildolph!, which is really good at what it does.

I believe these are new tunes:
Snow Falls Softly At Night -MonaLisa Twins
Merry Xmas Everybody – Robbie Williams, featuring Jamie Cullum

The Usual Suspects

Most of these I’ve posted in some prior year.

Getting Ready for Christmas Day – Paul Simon. Interesting that the sermon sampled was delivered in 1941, the same year Paul was born.

2000 Miles – Pretenders

White Christmas – the Drifters. One of my favorite bits of animation, ever.

Jingle Bells – The Fab 4. NOT the Beatles.

Linus And Lucy– Vince Guaraldi Trio. I read a bio about Vince some years back

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty. I still miss Petty.

What Christmas Means To Me – Stevie Wonder

The Bells of Christmas – Julie Andrews. There are at least three different versions of this on those old Firestone tire LPs my parents used to buy. One has an unnecessary one-minute instrumental in the middle, and the other has too cheery background singers. This is the best one.

The Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet. From that first A Very Special Christmas album in 1987.
Gabriel’s Message – Sting. Ditto. I had a girlfriend who HATED Sting’s voice.

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole. My late mom LOVED Nat Cole.
Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte. My late father incorporated elements of Belafonte in his folk-singing career.

Every valley– Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration

Santa’s Too Fat For the Hula Hoop – The Pixies Featuring Thurl Ravenscroft. I LOVE Thurl’s voice.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. A truly terrible song. Not as bad as Dominic the Donkey, but still.

More holiday stuff

The 60 Best Christmas Movies To Watch This Holiday Season

The Book of Dreams (Extended Version) – Argos Christmas advert 2019

Movie’s E.T. And Elliott Reunite 40 Years Later In A Commercial Sequel. I feel I should hate this, yet I don’t

fillyjonk’s tree

Mary and Joseph’s Battle Against the State

Advent as Lent-lite?

“I’m not a Christian but I used to have a very strong respect for what they stood for.”

liturgical cycleIt seems that Advent, the season we’re in now, doesn’t bring me as much joy as it does for others. Someone, I don’t remember who, recently suggested that Advent is Lent-lite.

And I submit it may be true. Just as the Lent precedes the Easter Resurrection, so too is the waiting for the birth. The songs can be somber and in minor key.

It may be Seasonal Affective Disorder, “a type of depression that reoccurs during the winter months and typically lasts until the spring or summer.” The early snow did not help.

Back in the 1980s, I used to go visit my parents’ house in Charlotte, NC January, around Martin Luther King’s birthday. The perfect timing was mandated by doing seasonal music at church and the heavy retail period at the store I worked, FantaCo, followed by doing inventory just after the first of the year.

But I reckon that I also become despondent over how the season has been taken over. Mark Evanier said, “I’m not a Christian but I used to have a very strong respect for what they stood for,” and I knew too well what he meant.

When Christianist apologists act Unchristian, when they “show that on immigration, race, and poverty, white evangelical Protestants have surrendered moral judgment and social responsibility, ” it makes me somewhat angry, but mostly incredibly sad.

Alternet suggests the so-called “war on Christmas” for a proxy war for white supremacy. And it sounds about right.

Then Christmas Eve arrives. It still involves waiting, but it is now of a very short duration. The music that we sing generally has a special magic.

The service has some of the structures of the previous years, yet it always has something new. I trick myself into believing that, for a short while at least, all IS right with the world.

Music Throwback Saturday: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
(Isaiah 60: 1)

handel.soulfulMore soulful Messiah, an Advent celebration.

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God!
(Isaiah 40: 9)

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
(Isaiah 60: 1)

Some comments about Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration:

ANYONE who is a lover of music will love this disc.
I bet when Handel wrote the “Messiah” he had no idea what other artists would contribute to his work.
“O Thou that Tellest”, the original alto aria, adapted by Take 6 and Stevie Wonder – so how could it possibly go wrong? Well, it doesn’t! Close harmony and Stevie’s classic voice – oh, yeah.

Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion – London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion – Stevie Wonder and Take 6. produced by Take 6

Bonus music

Santa’s Too Fat For The Hula Hoop – The Pixies with Thurl Ravenscroft as Santa Claus (c 1958). No, not THOSE Pixies.

Coverville 1105: A Very Christmas Coverville 2015


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