Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Love Past All Measure: An Advent and Christmas Music Mix

For Diana (of St. Fiacre's Garden) and others who who find some winter holiday songs completely unbearable, here is my Advent and Christmas mix. It's called "Love Past All Measure," a line taken from "Lullaby from Poland" by Madeline MacNeil. "Coventry Carol" by Loreena McKennitt, is of course for after Christmas, and it's a wretchedly sad song. Then again, even the proportedly merry tunes have overtones of things to come during Lent and the Holy Triduum. Take, for instance, We Three Kings. It starts out so merrily, but by the fourth verse you've got:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb...


I prefer O Come O Come Emmanuel-- right from the start, you know what you're in for:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


On my mix, Sufijan Stevens performs it with a banjo. Steve Martin says, "You just can't sing a depressing song when you're playing the banjo. You can't go...'Oh, murder and death and grief and sorrow!'" Sufijan Stevens makes it happen. I've never heard "Rejoice, rejoice" sound so mournful.

Some of these songs you may like, and some of them you probably won't. I've included a list of the albums from which the songs come so that you may find them more easily.

LOVE PAST ALL MEASURE: Songs for Christmas and Advent

1) Awake and Join the Cheerful Choir—Anonymous 4
2) I Wonder as I Wander—Emily Von Evera
3) O Come O Come Emmanuel—Sufijan Stevens
4) Blessed Be the Maid Marie— Madeline MacNeil
5) Seven Rejoices of Mary—Anonymous 4
6) God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen—Loreena McKennitt
7) O Holy Night--Tracy Chapman
8) Coventry Carol—Loreena McKennitt
9) Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—Diane Taraz
10) Three Ships—Cyndi Lauper
11) Good King Wenceslas—Loreena McKennitt
12) What Child is This?— Madeline MacNeil
13) Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant—Diane Taraz
14)Can Wassel—Anonymous 4
15) Lullaby from Poland/ Winter Waltz—Madeline MacNeil
16)Christ Child’s Lullaby—Kathy Mattea

Amended to include:
17) Silent Night--Sinead O'Connor

ALBUMS USED

Anonymous 4: Wolcum Yule
Cyndi Lauper: Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life
Loreena McKennitt: A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season
Madeline MacNeil: The Holly and the Ivy
Kathy Mattea: The Best Of Celtic Christmas
Sinead O'Connor: Alternative Rock X-Mas
Sufijan Stevens: Songs for Christmas
Diane Tiraz: Hope Says the Holly
Emily Van Evera, Taverner Consort and Choir: The Ultimate Classical Christmas Album Of All Time

P.S. Tomorrow is St. Nicholas' Day. Remember to put out a shoe tonight in the hopes of receiving treats tomorrow. When I was little, I felt sorry for children who had Santa Claus, who only came to visit once in December. (Then again, I did get coal in my shoe.)

10 comments:

HipWriterMama said...

Hard to believe you were a wild child...though, wait a minute, I was too. My dad nicknamed me Rebel.

Wait a minute, there's no Silent Night on your list.

GraceAnne LadyHawk said...

You have some of my favorites there. I did an iMix on iTunes trying to get some of my favorite medieval and Renaissance carols out there for my dear e-ones (Search under Ladyhawk).

You might also love The Bells of Dublin, with the McGarrigles' Il est ne among other gems.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

HWM: I've not found a version of "Silent Night" that I've enjoyed enough to put on the mix-- suggestions are welcome, though. De gustibus non est disputandum, which I like to translate as "There's no disputing taste" (as opposed to the slightly snide, "There's no accounting for taste.")

GraceAnne: I'll look for your iMix! Thanks for the "Bells of Dublin" recommendation. I remember listening to the McGarrigles when I was little-- "Love Over and Over" was on the album.

blogapotamus said...

I love the Winter Garden CD, although my only complaint is that it is all too short!

SevenImpossible said...

This is almost hard to read. I used to do a Christmas mix every year for friends and family, entitled "Zuzu's Petals," and my friends really loved it and looked forward to it every year and it was always so fun to find good, new songs. But I had to stop making it, 'cause it REALLY adds up. I can't just flop down $100 bucks every year (not on our current budget) for mixes for friends. I miss it. It was fun to make (and a bigger challenge every year to find holiday music that didn't SUCK).

I love that Tracy Chapman version of "O Holy Night" and her "mmm-mmm"s she throws in there.

Jules, 7-Imp

diana said...

What a great list--I thought I heard it all so I will have to check these songs out! I want to hear "Lullaby of Poland". And I would love to hear medieval and Renaissance carols!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Blogapotamus: I think if Loreena McKennitt had smushed her two holiday cds together, she'd have a proper album.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I'm revisiting "Silent Night" on iTunes... I like Burl Ives' sung version, but I don't care for the backup singing. I just want a basic, straightforward recording without flourishes or "ooohs" in the background. I think I'm going to go ahead and endorse Sinead O'Connor's version-- just because I have personal grievances with her doesn't mean I can't enjoy some of her songs.

Jules: It does add up. I've given out only a few cds of Christmas mixes I've made. The challenge to find holiday music that doesn't suck can be disheartening at times, exciting at others.

Diana: I hope you find some songs you like in order to drive that incessant "Santa Baby" out of your head. Argh, now it's back in my mind. Begone, foul dwimmerlaik! (The song, not you.)

HipWriterMama said...

Yay! Silent Night! Sinead does do a good job with this. Thank you.

Schelle said...

I love your list! wish I could listen to some of them, as they are new to me... we do sing "O come O come Emmanuel" in church at Christmas, so I can sing that in my head which will be nice today! (Wombat's favourite lullabies are Christmas carols - every day I sing him to sleep at naptime with Away In A Manger and Silent Night - they work perfectly!)

Thanks for your note - it's lovely to know someone is still out there remembering me, even when I vanish for a few months!