On Christmas Day, in the morning

mostly Isaiah and Matthew

Keep Christ in ChristmasOn Christmas Day, in the morning, I decided on three pieces. The third one I always select for this day.

The shepherds farewell from the oratorio L` enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz, performed by the Chorus of the Royal Opera House. Kelly Sedinger  wrote:” Since the events depicted in the oratorio come after the birth of Jesus, maybe this isn’t properly a Christmas selection, but that’s how I tend to view it.” Since Christmastide begins with Christmas on the church calendar, I would agree.

Not incidentally, I love this piece, in no small part, because it has an inverse pedal point. Kelly explained to me what the heck that meant. Other pieces with this feature include Maybe by Alison Krauss and Raindrops by Chopin. The effect practically brings me to tears.

We Three Kings – Patti Smith. Also, after the birth of the child. This rather astringent version of the song is from A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997). As the narrative goes, Herod sent the wise guys to Bethlehem not to honor the child but to find him so he could be eliminated. It’s a none-to-cheerful detail of the narrative.

Finally, Messiah by Georg Frederick Handel, the Christmas section. I’ve sung And The Glory Of The Lord, And He Shall Purify, Glory To God In The Highest, and especially For Unto To Us A Child Is Born often.

The scripture is, in order, Isaiah 40:1-5; Haggai 2:6,7; Malachi 3:1-3; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 3:16; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 2:8-11, 13, 14; Zechariah 9:9,10; Matthew 21:5; Isaiah 35:5,6; Isaiah 40:11; and Matthew 11:28-30.

Another STAX Christmas

Booker T. and The MG’s

In the Christmas SpiritSome of my favorite sources for holiday music are the various STAX Christmas and compilation albums. Do you know STAX/VOLT of Memphis, TN? The OTHER major source of soul music in the 1960s besides Motown in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Black Christmas – The Emotions. The female vocal trio had its best commercial years after leaving the label with Best Of My Love. This is a black empowerment track.

All I Want For Christmas Is You – Carla Thomas. One of the first names I think of on the label. From 1966, when it got to #11 on Billboard’s special Xmas list, the same year her B-A-B-Y was #3 RB, #14 pop.

Silver Bells (Ray Evans, Jay Livingston) – Booker T. and The MG’s. Released as a 1967 season single. Booker T. Jones was born in 1944 in Memphis, TN.

Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas – Staple Singers; a downer, social justice song. But I love Pops’ and Mavis’ voices here.

Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont) – Booker T. and The MG’s, #20 on the Xmas list in 1966

Gee Whiz It’s Christmas – Carla Thomas. written by Thomas, Steve Cropper, and trumpeter Vinny Trauth. #23 on the Christmas charts in 1963. It was inspired by Carla’s #10 pop/#5 RB hit Gee Whiz (Look In His Eyes)

Sort of a hit

Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday – William Bell. Written by Bell and Booker T. Jones. This went #33 RB in 1968 and was a regional pop hit in the DC area. Born in 1939 in Memphis, he was a prolific songwriter.

The Mistletoe And Me – Isaac Hayes. A keyboard player/songwriter for STAX, the singer died in 2008. This non-album invokes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and We Three Kings, among other songs. I contend that this is a GREAT Christmas song. But I’ve never heard it on the radio

Winter Snow (Isaac Hayes) – Booker T. and The MG’s. Yes, it is a melancholy instrumental. Sometimes the season is like that.

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.

A LOT of Christmas music

Queen of Christmas

lot of christmas songsI have a LOT of Christmas music, 100 LPs and CDs or more. This is why I rarely listen to the radio stations playing holiday music between Thanksgiving (and some even earlier) and December 25. With all the music available, why are so many stations limited to a few dozen recordings?

It’s not that I MIND them. But When my wife tunes in, I’ll hear the same song, often by the same artist, every three or four days. A lot of them are almost as old as I am. Understand I like a lot of them, but still.

Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
White Christmas – Bing Crosby
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Burl Ives
Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
Sleigh Ride – Ella Fitzgerald
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – Jackson 5
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth – Bing Crosby/David Bowie
plus various cuts by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and more Bing

Not that I would ever complain about hearing songs from that Phil Spector album, such as:
Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane) – Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans
Frosty the Snowman – The Ronettes
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

There are those “newer” songs if you want to call a quarter century “new”:  All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey. And speaking of Carey, her desire to trademark the term “Queen of Christmas” is pretentious and ill-advised. Darlene Love and Elizabeth Chan have raised serious objections, as they should.


Here’s a link from four years ago. Besides the part about Nowell We Sing Clear, there are some of my favorite pieces, including by Tom Petty, Julie Andrews, and Stevie Wonder.

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

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