Tuesday, 28 December 2010

On fourth day of Christmas...

Continuing the theme of seasonal musical offerings, I give you two more - both acquired tastes I'll admit, but (in my view) well worth acquiring. First, Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band. This is how Christmas carols started. Not many people realise that (a) robed choirs a la Kings College, Cambridge are a relatively recent phenomenon , dating from the Anglican revival of the nineteenth century, and (b) Christmas carols as we sing 'em would seldon have been heard in church until about a century ago. Most were secular dance-tunes and - as such - the work of the devil (who, after all, has all the best of them so it's said!). Thus carols of all shapes and sizes as we sing them these days are not much older than a hundred years, although their history goes back in time much further. Back to the days when they'd be sung in the ale-houses and sound a little like this...


Carols were also always re-invented and refreshed. Nowadays, of course, we have John Rutter (although he only really has one tune, re-arranged and set to different words!) but back in the day, everyone would have a go at caroling (the word 'carol' means 'dance'.) Here's the late, great Jake Thackray with his contribution, Joseph. Again, an acquired taste... but worth the effort.

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