sounds of Christmas include those heartfelt World War II classics
and even those not-so-old additions to the music of the holidays.
But most of all, the lilting voices of carolers will forever be a
fond memory of those who love the season.
of the world's finest music has been written for Christmas.
Renowned composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach (1734, Christmas
Oratorio) and George Frederick Handel (1742, Messiah)
created masterpieces in celebration of Christ's birthday.
Christmas music began when priests of the
Christian Church sang
prayers as early as A.D.
100's. Most of the first Christmas carols were written in
Latin during the A.D. 400's. Back then, priests strolled throughout their
parishes on Christmas Eve singing carols.
The father of caroling, St. Francis of
Assisi, sang carols even though only officials of the church had
been encouraged to do so before this time. In 1223, he placed
a miniature Nativity scene in his church at Graecia, Italy.
Soon, many churches began to display a Nativity scene at Christmas.
Then, the people started acting out the events in theater. The actors composed carols to sing in their
Nativity plays. After the religious service, "carolers"
continued to sing as they strolled through the streets. In
this way, street caroling was born.
"O' Come All Ye Faithful" (Adeste
Fideles) is probably the most popular Christmas Carol. Though
the composer is unknown, it is sung in many countries in many
different languages. The British favorite, "God Rest Ye
Merry, Gentlemen", was composed by John Wesley and "Hark! the Herald
Angels Sing" by his brother, Charles in 1739.
The words to "Silent Night" were
written by the pastor of a church in Bavaria, Joseph Mohr, on
Christmas Eve 1818. His church organist, Franz Gruber,
composed the music on the same night and presented it at the
midnight Mass. In 1867, after a visit to Christ's birthplace,
Boston minister Phillips Brooks wrote "O Little Town of Bethlehem".
"O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noel") brought fame to the French
composer Adolphe Adam.
The 1940's and World War II inspired many
American composers to pen some of the world's most popular Christmas songs.
"White Christmas" is one of the most beloved and well
Whether you're from the older generation or the
newest, Christmas music will always be a part of our holiday
tradition. So, dust off those old 33's or unwrap that new CD
and enjoy the sounds of Christmas.