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Christmas Carols

Catherine Bott looks back on the origin of the Christmas carol and roots out some of the original versions of some of today's popular tunes. Carols appeared in Europe thousands of years ago, but they weren't originally the Christmas fare we know today. They were pagan songs for the Winter Solstice and people would sing them as they danced around stone circles. The word 'carol' suggests a dance-song expressing praise or joy. Early Christians took over the pagan solstice celebrations and so the link was established between carols and Christmas. More often than not Christmas carols were popular tunes to be performed in gathering places or in the streets, only slowly did they start to find there way into the church.

Some of the melodies for today's popular carols are very old, and through the course of this programme Catherine draws on some of the original versions of the carols, for songs such as Ding Dong Merrily On High and Good King Wenceslas. She explores some of the ways in which early composers have brought carols into the body of the church service.

John Foster: While shepherds watched their flocks
Taverner Consort and Players
Andrew Parrott (conductor)
VIRGIN CLASSICS 503680 CD 1 Track 2

Trad: Gabriel fram heven-king (Angelus ad virginem)
Andrew Parrott (tenor)
Dorren Muskett (hurdy-gurdy)
EMI CDC 7498092 Track 17

Trad: Peperit virgo (The Red Book of Ossory)
Holly Cluett (soprano)
Andrea Budgey (harp)
AMON RA CD SAR 63 Track 5

Trad: Verbum caro: In hac anni circulo
Taverner Consort
Andrew Parrott (conductor)
EMI CDC 7498092 Track 21

Segue to:

Trad: Now may we singen
Oxford Camerata
Jeremy Summerly (conductor)
NAXOS 8.550751 Track 13

Trad: Nova Nova
Pro Cantione Antiqua
ALTO ALC 1004 Track 15

Segue to:

Trad: Goday my Lord Syre Christemasse
Pro Cantione Antiqua
ALTO ALC 1004 Track 16

Trad: Nato canunt omnia - Sequentia ad Misam in gallicantu in Nativate Domini
Pro Cantione Antiqua
Bruno Turner (conductor)
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77446-2 Track 5

Segue to:

Trad: Jhesu, fils virginis
Pro Cantione Antiqua
Bruno Turner (conductor)
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77446-2 Track 6

Segue to:

Richard Smert: Nowell, Nowell
Pro Cantione Antiqua
Bruno Turner (conductor)
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77446-2 Track 9

Trad: In Dulci Jubilo
Oxford Camerata
Jeremy Summerly (conductor)
NAXOS 8.553578 Track 9

Segue to:

Trad: Branle de l'Officiel
Taverner Consort and Players
Andrew Parrott (conductor)
EMI CDC 7498092 Track 24

Segue to:

Trad: Tempus adest floridum
Oxford Camerata
Jeremy Summerly (conductor)
NAXOS 8.553578 Track 3

Trad: Gaudete
Stephen Charlesworth (baritone)
Taverner Consort and Players
EMI CDC 7498092 Track 20

Trad: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The Mellstock Band
THE SERPENT PRESS SER008 Track 14.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Sun 27 Dec 2009 13:00