Advent Calendar 2022: Christmas Eve 🎉

It’s the penultimate window on this year’s Advent Calendar – this seems to have flown by! Most of today’s five songs have been here before – one of them earlier in this series – and the other one is a return visit by an act who have already been here this year with another song. If you can’t have familiar tunes to enjoy at Christmas, when can you?

This first one is by a returning artist, too. I play this one every year – but I couldn’t really play it on any other day, could I:

That is so utterly beautiful and charming and I never tire of it, which is why I play it every year! This song was on a five track EP that Mindy Smith released in 2013, comprising a couple of self-penned songs and some Christmas/New Year standards. I gave you the other one she wrote, the title track of the Snowed In EP, on Day 19 and her beautiful voice is always welcome here.

This next one is another that could really only be played today:

Again, this is one I play most years but this is the first time for this video, which was released just three weeks ago. I think it is a perfect fit for the song. Christmas Must Be Tonight was originally recorded in 1975 for inclusion on The Band’s Northern Lights – Southern Cross album, but was left off the final release. It finally appeared on their 1977 album Islands, which was a contractual obligation album of unreleased material for Capitol Records, before their Last Waltz triple album came out on Warner Bros. It was the final album with their original line up, so there is a touch of poignancy about this one, which is a lovely narration of the Nativity story, from the perspective of a shepherd watching his flock.

I think there may have been a few songs about that over the years. Here is one you probably won’t know, from my favourite band of Russian carol singers:

As I have said before, I found Otava Yo a couple of years ago from a YouTube recommendation, and have watched many videos by them since then, and some live streamed concerts too. The joy they bring to their music is ideally suited to this time of year, and the lovely singers of the vocal group Vasilisa always add a little extra special something. If you need the translation the ‘CC’ link on the video gives you the lyrics, which seem to me to be an amalgam of several of the stories told in Christmas carols that might be more familiar to us. The Angel’s Christmas Descent is just right for today.

Two of today’s previous acts are making their second appearance in this year’s Advent Calendar. The two remaining tunes for today are also doing that. I played you a carol by Blackmore’s Night last weekend, and if I couldn’t play this one today I don’t know when I could:

As with other tracks by Blackmore’s Night that I have played you, Christmas Eve was originally released in 2006 on their Winter Carols album. The album has undergone three reissues with various additions, culminating in last year’s bumper 27 track version. This song was a revised version, originally issued as a single alongside the 2013 album, though this video was made especially for last year’s reissue. I think it is lovely.

That would have been where I left it for today’s set of songs, but I couldn’t resist adding in another. This one doesn’t fit the Christmas Eve theme and I have already played it this year, but as the new UK chart was published yesterday and this broke The Beatles’ record of four Christmas #1s by becoming their fifth – in successive years, too – I think it deserves another play:

LadBaby have had a brilliant run over the past five Christmas seasons: they raise a lot of money for the Trussell Trust charity, whose work in providing food banks is especially important at this time of year. It was be a close run thing, though, as midweek reports suggested that both Wham and Screeching Mariah weren’t far behind. It’s not as though those two haven’t already been successful, is it, and I’m glad they lost the race!

As it is almost the big day, I thought that, in the spirit of the season, I would also give you two Christmas presents – one each today and tomorrow – of longer videos to entertain you, and to relieve any boredom you may be feeling at this quiet time of year. This is the first, a film for children of all ages, which has been a Christmas staple here in the UK since it first came out in 1982, and is still shown every year on tv:

I’ve played you quite a few animations this Advent, but this one is, for me, still right up there among the very best.

That’s definitely all for today, apart from the usual tasteful image with which I leave you:

See you again tomorrow for a bumper Christmas Day special – something to take your mind off all that cooking and jollity! 🎁

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