Posted by: Clare | December 22, 2009

Christmas carols make me wish I could sing

This weeks Ten on Tuesday got me thinking about my favorite Christmas songs. Here are a few of my favorites.

Once in Royal David’s City.
This is such a beautiful carol anyway, but it has extra significance for me. The school I went to from 6-11 was King’s College School, the prep school associated with King’s College, one of the colleges that make up Cambridge University. Every year on Christmas Eve, Carols From King’s is broadcast on TV and radio all over the world (if you haven’t heard/seen it before it’s worth checking out). It became a tradition to watch it when I was at school there because I knew many of the boy choristers (the choir is made up of students from both the university and the prep school, all male). I used to love seeing my friends on TV, looking all angelic (they did NOT look like that every day!). The service always opens with Once In Royal David’s City and who gets the solo at the beginning is a big deal (usually the soloist is one of the older boys, whose voice will likely break in the year following, which is actually really sad if you think about it). Hearing that song always really puts me in the Christmas spirit. I mean, watch this – how can it not?! (also, if you don’t know the song – it is the Nativity story)

Twelve Days of Christmas
This is perhaps an odd choice for a favorite, but it is the memories this song conjures for me that is the reason I love it. I went to a boarding school on a hill in the countryside in England from 11-16 and the week before the end of term before the Christmas holidays was probably my favorite time of year, every year. There was an air of excitement in the air that just wasn’t there at any other time. Usually it was very crisp and cold outside, often with a layering of snow that made the area very magical and added to the Christmas feeling. A week before the end of term our trunks would be brought up from storage and lined up along the downstairs hallways of the main building. A huge Christmas tree decorated by the first years (11/12 year olds) took center stage in that hallway, with the “big stairs” (a formal staircase that we were not supposed to use – the building was a former cattle baron’s mansion converted into a school but with many of the original “house” features) wrapping around it, almost like a frame. The Saturday night a week before school ended all of the boarders would congregate at these stairs and sing Christmas carols, accompanied by a teacher playing the piano. The first years would sit on the floor in the hallway, the second years would sit on the bottom few steps of the big stairs, the third years behind them…and so on, all the way up to the lower and upper 6th formers (16/17/18) who would sit at the top of the stairs. The favorite song was always Twelve Days of Christmas. We would each sing two lines (so first years would sing first day and seventh day, second years would sing second day and eighth day, etc.) and there was always an unofficial competition for who could sing the loudest/most raucously. So much fun.

O Holy Night
Just beautiful.

I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas
It’s just so cute! And catchy!

Other favorites: Last Christmas, All I want for Christmas, Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Ding, Dong! Merrily On High


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