Monday, 3 December 2012

The Christmas Music dilemma

I was on BBC Wiltshire with the excellent Mark O'Donnell on Saturday, and a topic of discussion was whether to play a Christmas song or a winter song (as it was a bit early for Christmas stuff). What was interesting in this discussion, as so often is the case, was the hinterland.

There was significant debate over whether a song that doesn't mention Christmas, or Christmas specific appurtenances like Santa Claus and Rudolph, but that is traditionally associated with Christmas is a Christmas song or a winter song. Think Frosty the Snowman, Let it Snow or Winter Wonderland. Okay, we're in 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin' territory, but hey, it's December.

Personally I was strongly in favour of letting these through as winter songs. But it led me to think of another Christmas music dilemma. I'm a great fan of church music, both singing it and listening to it - and I love carols. Now, technically we are currently in Advent, the season leading up to Christmas - the equivalent of Lent before Easter. And there is plenty of good Advent music. So there is an argument that you should only sing Advent music until Christmas begins at midnight on 24 December. But...

But, I think most people would agree, that Christmas carols seem limp and out of place after around 26 December. It would be ridiculous to limit ourselves to singing and hearing these brilliant bits of music to one day. So reluctantly I have to say, I think it's okay to go with the carols from the start of December. Ding Dong away, folks. Ding Dong away.

Just in case you think all carols are crass, here's an example of a high class Christmas carol - Peter Warlock's Bethlehem Down. Nice story too. Warlock (real name Philip Heseltine) and his friend Bruce Blunt wanted to get drunk over Christmas. They had no cash, so they ran off this little number to pay for the festivities. And here's the thing you couldn't imagine today. The Daily Telegraph published it - sheet music and all - on Christmas Eve 1927.

1 comment:

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