Today peep through the window to a traditional Christmas scene, carols from King’s College Cambridge. The choir are singing ‘The Angle Gabriel’ and you can see what happens to sweet little choir boys when they grow up in the second YouTube video.
You can listen toA Festival of Nine Lessons and Carolsbroadcast live at 3pm on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve, as it has been since 1928. Patrick Magee, the senior chorister, wrote casually of this first broadcast in his journal “Christmas Eve. Practice 10-12.45. Go out to dinner with Mum and Dad. Carol service broadcasted. Comes off well. I read a lessons and sing a solo in ‘Lullay’.” You can watch the carols later on BBC 2 at 5.30pm. This Covid year the choir will be socially distanced and there will be no congregation, I wonder how different that will look and sound?
Bells are a popular theme at Christmas and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was a favourite of mine; this BBC studio recording was broadcast in December 1973, which is a very long time ago and now I’m listening, it doesn’t sound quite how I remember. But before you pop through the ether to hear all 25 minutes of it, today’s window brings warning of the perils of YouTubular. You may be sucked in, never to emerge into the real world again. I don’t often search YouTubular. I used to wonder when I first started blogging how other bloggers made music magically appear on their blogs. Then I realised they did not actually play the music themselves or invite musicians to their house, they cheated by finding it on Youtubular.
It starts by looking up a piece of music, if you can remember the title or performer. You then discover there are hundreds of different performers, versions and settings, especially for universally known pieces. Some have no film, just a picture of a CD cover, boring, move on… but be careful, do you want to share a great performance of a choral work, or that film made in a tiny church with your aunty’s choir; their singing even more shaky than the hand of the person holding the smart phone to film them. Or you might find yourself in a flash mob performance and you can’t resist watching to see what happens next.
So at last you have chosen a piece to link in to your blog, but when you press Publish and check the link, there is some bloke you have never heard of singing a song totally different from the one you have just written about. YouTube moves on, it never runs out of music, you could spend all evening, perhaps the rest of your life enraptured by strange advertisements and led into the next piece of music… If you like the music playing and it’s a long piece, you can read the 14, 378 comments and if you don’t like the music choose something else from the display at the side of the screen; scrolling down for ever and ever…
But saddest are the YouTubular videos that have 0 views, no thumbs up or thumbs down in the thirteen years they have been there, notes unheard. It is our duty to view, listen and share them; after all, we writers know what it is like to publish words that may never be read, disappearing into the ether forever.
Today’s window opens joyfully in Germany. Jauchzet, frohlocket! ( Shout for joy ) is a 1734 Christmas cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach that forms the first part of his Christmas Oratorio. It was incorporated within services of the two most important churches in Leipzig, St. Thomas’ and St. Nicholas’. Bach, a devout Lutheran, composed music for the Lutheran Church and was Thomaskantor responsible for church music at four churches in Leipzig. Enjoy this music in a beautiful Dresden church.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a composer, organist and violinist widely regarded as one of the greatest classical composers of all time. Not only did he compose great works every week for church services, but his home life was also busy, though full of tragedy. He was devoted to his family. In 1706 he married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach. The couple had seven children together, some of whom died as infants. Maria died in 1720. The following year Bach married a singer named Anna Magdalena Wülcken. They had thirteen children, more than half of them died as children. But he still managed to leave the world so much.
You can read the poignant history of that amazing church with this link.
Wiener Sängerknaben or Vienna Boys’ Choir is the world’s foremost children’s choral group. It is among the oldest of musical organizations, founded following an Imperial decree of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I on July 7, 1498; the Emperor wished boys’ voices to be added to the choir of the Imperial Chapel, or Hofkapelle. There are actually four choirs that tour the world, though Covid has put that on pause.
A frosty morning made Elf think of wintry things so he asked the boys to sing Sleigh Ride.
Over seventy years after Leroy Anderson created Sleigh Ride, the composition is still ranked as one of the 10 most popular pieces of Christmas music worldwide. Though the word “Christmas” is never mentioned in the lyrics, which Mitchell Parish wrote several years after Anderson finished the composition. Anderson ( 1908 – 1975 ) was an American composer of short, light concert pieces and his music is instantly familiar and sure to cheer us up, whether you want to dance to Belle of the Ball or write at speed to The Typewriter ( which gives me an idea for another blog! )
The weather is grey and damp here so what better than an Australian Christmas tree to brighten us up.
But the elf had a trip to the beach hut yesterday where we had glorious sunshine. He is looking forward to some Christmas shopping as we are now out of Lockdown Two and in Tier Two, we can’t visit anybody, but can go to non essential shops, so let me know what you want…