Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the spirit

In the spirit of the season I have chosen three of my favourite Christmas carols to share with you. They are all three rather mournful, but I find them very beautiful and moving.

This first carol is plaintive and full of hopeful desire for the Saviour to rescue his people from darkness and sin. It is very reminiscent of an ancient monastic chant. It is in fact, one of the world's oldest hymns, discovered, translated and modified from an obscure 9th century processional in 1850 by an Anglican priest   John Mason Neale.


Now this carol is a personal favourite of mine because it is a truly Canadian hymn and its background tells much about Canada's early history. It was written by a French missionary in order to explain the story of the nativity in a way that the Huron people could understand. Father Jean de Brebeuf also translated his song into the Huron language. The following link explains the story more fully. (Click on the song title).

It is no wonder that this next hymn is a favourite of mine! I had no idea until I did this research that this hymn was inspired by a poem written by the English poet Christina Rosetti which was published after her death in 1904. In 2008, a poll of choral experts and choirmasters voted Harold Darke's setting of In the Bleak Midwinter the greatest Christmas carol of all time!

Slightly off topic here but I am reminded because of the title, to mention this wonderful fanfic about the sweet, shy hunk of an RA character  -- John Standring in a story by Khandy entitled...
(you guessed it!) ... In the Bleak Midwinter.

Richard Armigage as John Standring in Sparkhouse (2002).

bccmee is putting everyone in the Christmas spirit with her lovely Christmas fanvid about 
Harry Kennedy in the Vicar of Dibley.
Richard Armitage as Harry Kennedy in The Vicar of Dibley


JaneGS said...

I posted two of my all-time favorite carols, and introduced me to a new favorite. I must say, though, that the Huron carol reminded me in parts of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which is also a favorite of mine. All three were lovely--I listened to them in entirety, and now have a Madonna-like smile upon my face.


Avalon said...

All three are beautiful. I will check out the fanfic- thanks for sharing.

Phylly3 said...

@Jane -- So happy you like my choices! I wish I had a version of the Huron Carol with someone singing it, but I couldn't find the one I like best. This video is good because of the information that is included in it.
@Avalon -- The fanfic is very good. I wish I had more time to indulge myself in fanfic but I much prefer to read an actual book. I spent too much time in my computer chair! (Plus I love to read in the tub!) :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting The Huron Carol! As with In Flanders Fields, the carol was one of those gems we were "made" to learn as small children. It's haunting. Somehow,Fr. de Brebeuf had the empathy to capture a quality transcending cultures.

Happy Christmas! (Hope we don't get TOO much snow!) :)


Phylly3 said...

@fitzg-- Thanks for commenting! Nice to see you here and I'm very happy that you appreciate the Huron Carol as much as I do.
So far, where I live we have had quite a bit of snow. But it has helped to put me more in the Christmas mood so I am liking it! Have a very Merry Christmas to you too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the Huron Carol, which I did not know. My students read excerpts of Fr. de Brébeuf's contributions to the Jesuit relations this term, so I am going to forward them this link as a post-finals greeting!

And I love O Come, O Come Emmanuel, too, though I think of it as an Advent song and not as a Christmas carol :)

Great post.

Phylly3 said...

@Servetus--I am pleased that you are going to share the Huron Carol with your students. I didn't realize that it was not well known outside Canada. As Fitz has suggested, it is extremely popular here and part of every public school's repertoire.