Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Apple #694: Christmas Carol Lyrics

As Christmas so closely approacheth, I thought I would do something a little different for this Daily Apple. Instead of me telling you all kinds of stuff, I thought I'd make this entry a quiz.  Let's see how well you know our good ol' Christmas carols.

We hear Christmas carols all the time. But how well do you really know them?
(Image from Smosh.com)

The Mystery Lines

There's a mix of the secular & the religious.  That's the only hint you'll get from me.
  • 1. "Fear not, then," said the Angel, / "Let nothing you affright."
  • 2. No more let sins and sorrows grow / Nor thorns infest the ground.
  • 3. Through the years, we all will be together / If the Fates allow
  • 4. We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way
  • 5. I love you, I love you / And I'm gonna bring / Bananas, pianas, and everything
  • 6. We won't go until we get some, so bring it right here
  • 7. Later we'll have some pumpkin pie / and we'll do some caroling
  • 8. Peace on earth will come to all / if we just follow the light
  • 9. Giddy-up, jingle horse, pick up your feet
  • 10. And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again

Bonus points if you remember which Christmas carol the Peanuts gang sings at the end of their Christmas special.
(Image from Reform Worship)

The Answers

1. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - at least as old as 1760

2. Joy to the World - 1719. Muusic by Handel, words by Isaac Watts, who was imprisoned twice for religious non-conformism

3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - 1943. The minor key and slow tempo of this song always make me think of all the people who were suffering through World War II when this song was first performed.

4. Walking in a Winter Wonderland - 1934. Lyrics written by Dick Smith, who lived in Honesdale, PA, and was said to have been inspired by the winters of his home town. He wrote the song while he was suffering from tuberculosis. Neither he nor his fellow songwriter, Felix Bernard, lived to see the song's success.

5. Shake Hands with Santa Claus - 1958. Performed by Louis Prima, written by the songwriting team of Milton DeLugg (what a terrible name) and Bob Hillard

6. We Wish You a Merry Christmas - sometime in the 16th century. Rather demanding, isn't it? But I guess figgy pudding was considered very delicious and a true treat of its day, requiring somebody to pretty much empty the pantry of everything good in the house: butter, sugar, eggs, milk, figs (of course). rum, orange or lemon peel, nuts, and spices including cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - also from 1958. Performed by Brenda Lee, written by Johnny Marks. Brenda Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded this song. Sure doesn't sound like it, does it?  Her father died when she was 8, and she started earning money to support her family when she was 10. Perhaps that accounts for the maturity in her voice.

8. Here Comes Santa Claus - 1946. Written by Gene Autry, the same guy who wrote "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and "Frosty the Snowman."

9. Jingle Bell Rock - 1957. The most widely-played cover is by Hall & Oates. But it's been covered by scores of groups: The Platters, Chubby Checker, Glee, The Beach Boys, .38 Special, Hilary Duff, some people called Aly & AJ (now 78violet), and more.

10. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - 1951. Notice that it's spelled "A[space]Lot." Not "Alot." Because "alot" is not a word!  Written by the woman who wrote The Music Man, Meredith Wilson. This song has also been covered by a lot (not alot, a[space]lot) of people -- Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, and more recently, Michael BublĂ©.

Bonus. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing  - 1739 & 1840. Lyrics written by Charles Wesley, whose brother John founded the Methodist church. Charles Wesley also wrote the tune, but it's not the tune we know. His original melody was very slow and somber, almost like a dirge.  Over 100 years later, Felix Mendelssohn wrote a cantata, and an English composer adapted Mendelssohn's piece to fit Wesley's much older lyrics.

So, how did you do?

I have to share one more bit of Christmas carol lore with you. This is taken from a recent article in the Telegraph:

Perhaps, the most Christmas-like biographical snippet, however, belongs to Josef Mohr (1792-1848), the illegitimate son of an Austrian embroideress and godson of the local executioner, who required special papal permission (on account of his missing father) even to be allowed to train for the Catholic priesthood. Mohr was sent off to the remote Alpine parish of Oberndorf. The organ was in such a bad state of repair, legend has it, that Mohr was moved to rush off the words for a carol that was so simple it could be sung without accompaniment. So 'Silent Night' was in fact written to make sure that December 25 would not be silent in Oberndorf church. (The Telegraph, December 19, 2014)

Merry Christmas, everybody!

(Image from Wallpaperfo.com)

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