Advent Calendar 2021 – Day 12 🎍

As it is Sunday, it is one of the days on which I bring you versions of Christmas Carols. And as my usual weekend bonus there will be three songs today, two of which I have never shared before.

The carol Silent Night is extremely well known, and there have been many recorded versions by artists in the popular music field as well as more traditional versions. Of all of these, my favourite is the one I have shared before:

I think that is stunning. So beautifully and tenderly sung, with absolutely no diva tendencies getting in the way of a simple, but lovely, tune. The video is gorgeous, too. This was released as a non-album single in 1991, reaching #12 in Ireland and #60 in the UK. I think it deserved so much better. The carol itself dates back to 1818, when it was composed by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, in Austria.

My second song for today is a version of one of my favourite carols by one of my favourite singers. A natural fit for me:

The fan video compiled for this is rather nice, but nothing can really add to the beauty of the carol and Kate Rusby’s voice. O Little Town Of Bethlehem is based on an 1868 text written by Phillips Brooks. The carol is popular on both sides of the Atlantic, but to different tunes: in North America to St. Louis by Brooks’ collaborator, Lewis Redner; and in the United Kingdom and Ireland to Forest Green, a tune collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams and first published in the 1906 English Hymnal. Kate’s version is on her album While Mortals Sleep, released in November 2011 – the second of her five albums (to date) of Christmas songs. It reached #91 in the UK albums chart, exactly the same position as Sweet Bells, her first Christmas album from 2008. I rather surprised myself when I looked back through my notes and found that I had never shared this one before – it was an easy decision to rectify that omission!

My third choice for today is a newly released video by one of my favourite YouTube covers bands, who have just released an album of Christmas tunes. This isn’t a carol I knew before – I suspect it is better known in the States than over here – but I rather like this:

Foxes And Fossils usually have one or more of the three Foxes taking lead vocals, but only Maggie Adams appears on this, providing some of the harmony vocals. The lead is taken by Darwin Conort – he has sung occasionally on their videos before, and I think he has a wonderful voice. Some background information, courtesy of Wikipedia:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is a Christmas carol based on the 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of the narrator hearing Christmas bells during the American Civil War, but despairing that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”. After much anguish and despondency the carol concludes with the bells ringing out with resolution that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep” and that there will ultimately be “…peace on earth, good will to men”.

Longfellow’s wife, Frances, had died in an accidental fire at their home in July 1861, and it is thought that he never recovered from this blow. Against his wishes, his son Charles joined up for the Union Army in March 1863, and was severely wounded in November, though he later made a full recovery. Longfellow wrote the poem on which this carol is based on Christmas Day 1863. There have been many recordings of this, notably by Bing Crosby (is there a Christmas song that he hasn’t recorded?), Johnny Cash, Burl Ives, and Suzy Bogguss. They all take it at a slightly slower pace but I prefer the F&F treatment, which I think is lovely.

A little Sunday bonus for you. As I said earlier in the month, the fabulous Hafod Hardware aren’t making one of their Christmas ads this year, so I’m sharing the previous four. The next one will be here in a few days but until then I thought you might like this story from Friday:

That is the first time I’ve ever shared a video from the Royal Family on here, and may well be the last time. In case you didn’t spot it, the album that Prince Charles is buying is That Spell, the latest by Andrea Von Kampen, released in August this year. Andrea, you may recall, provides the beautiful songs which accompany Hafod’s ads. There is a news story from ITV which gives you some more background to this visit, but I can’t embed it. If you’d like to see it, you’ll find it here. Andrea was, quite rightly, ecstatic about this and posted it on Facebook – good for her!

That’s all for today, and I hope you enjoyed my selection of some lesser known versions of carols. All that remains is for me not to spoil the mood with my image of the day:

Oh well, it could have been worse, believe me. See you tomorrow 🎄

40 thoughts on “Advent Calendar 2021 – Day 12 🎍

  1. Nice selection. The Sinaed O’Connor’s Silent Night is, as you say, stunning. I’m also a big fan of Kate Rusby. Have you more Christmas Carols to come? I keep hearing great new versions of the old carols but my go to Christmas Eve is John Rutter’s ‘The Colours of Christmas’ album.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul, I’m pleased you enjoyed them. There will be another selection of carols on Sunday – it is my habit to respect the day, but nothing as high brow as John Rutter. Mine are very much folk or pop based!

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  2. That lady is not going to let go of Charles’ hand! What a lovely shop. We have a little local hardware store that sells everything, which is why there is only room to walk round in single file and they guard the doorway in Covid times; no room for a royal visit. Going over to check out the news story now…

    Liked by 2 people

    • And lovely people running it. She was so intent on reminding him of 40 years ago – I bet he didn’t remember it! Shops like that are the lifeblood of their towns and it’s great to see that being publicised.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jacob, thanks for your kind words and for following – I’ve returned the compliment.

      I try to mix these up: chart hits aren’t banned, but I like a lot of alternative versions of Christmas songs too. As I’ve said, you won’t see the dreaded Mariah here! I don’t think she’s even capable of anything as good as Sinead O’Connor anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. great song from Sinead – I guess it’s hard to be a diva while wearing a bonnet. I don’t think Carol has shared this with her other favorite versions of this song…

    and Kate Rusby does have a wonderful voice… her voice reminds me a bit of Heidi Talbot, who used to sing with Cherish the Ladies…

    I had not heard of the last song either, but it is a wonderful holiday tune.

    and what a great story about Prince Charles…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Given that Sinead’s look has long been a shaven head I did wonder, perhaps uncharitably, if the curls were actually attached to the bonnet, like one of those comedy hats you see. My memory may be wrong but I think this was one of the versions Carol shared in her mega post, the one that included loads of versions of the song.

      I can see a slight similarity between Kate and Heidi, but I think the latter has a higher, more strident pitch to her voice. Both great singers, though. I listened to several American versions of this one: it’s probably because I’m used to it, but I much prefer our tune!

      I think it may be the way F&F do the song – they add a little more life to it than some other versions I’ve heard.

      You just knew I was going to include the Prince Charles story, didn’t you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess I missed it it Carol’s post.

        Kate’s version is wonderful, but it did catch me off guard at first!

        and I do like the added life that F&F brings to the song…

        I felt like an insider, getting that news about Prince Charles before you shared it on your post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hope I haven’t mis-remembered it!

        It’s funny how the same song can have two different lives, isn’t it. I would imagine most would prefer the one they grew up with.

        I knew you’d be interested in the Prince Charles story, and once I’d saved the link to send it to you it seemed natural to include it in the post. The Royal Family version was all I could find on YouTube as ITV still don’t have it on their page.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I did watch that one as part of trying to put my post together. and while it’s got a great music track, I have to admit I may not have gotten the message of the video without having to read about it afterward…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I thought the message was fairly clear to be honest, but they seem not to have made much of the charity donations they and Mabel, who sang the song, are making. It got more publicity here for being such a tear jerker that people were being warned not to watch it – not that easy when it comes on in an ad break!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, a popular song in North America. It just doesn´t sound right to hear Oh Little Town of Bethlehem sung to a different tune, although she does do a lovely job of it. And the Sinead O´Connor version of Silent Night is hauntingly beautiful. Love the clip of Prince Charles visiting our favourite hardware store. I have always thought he would probably be quite a nice fellow if he wasn´t Royalty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I said in the piece, I didn’t know that one and loved this version too. I’ve tried some of the others, and much prefer this one. I guess it’s what you’re used to with O Little Town – that’s the one I was brought up with, though Kate takes it slightly more slowly than most church organists I’ve heard! I also considered the Stevie Nicks version of Silent Night, but this is far superior to her nasal whining, despite all the comments on there from the tone deaf saying how lovely Stevie’s is! I first heard of the Prince Charles visit from Andrea Von Kampen on Facebook – she was so thrilled, and it was delightful to see. She ‘liked’ my comment that I didn’t know he was a lover of good music 😊

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