Fancy Cat’s Corner: Christmas Music

Hello, there, blog readers! It’s Fancy Cat again. This time I’m here to share a little bit about Christmas music. I’d like to begin with sharing with you all a little bit about caroling. Being a caroler myself, I can personally attest to all the charms and downfalls of the process of practicing and singing Christmas carols. Importantly, though, we must get a little bit of history under our belts. According to historians, The first Christmas hymns appeared in fourth century Rome. These “carols”, though, did not reflect the cheery, uplifting spirit of modern caroling, but were rather hymns stating the wrongs of Arianism.

Times sure have changed, haven’t they? today’s modernized Christmas carols are full of happiness and life, not necessarily Christian angst. Two carols in particular are favorites of mine: “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night”. While, in reality, these carols have origins in the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries, respectively, they are continually sung every Christmas season. (Collins, Ace; [2001], Stories of Best-loved Songs of Christmas, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, pp. 132-138.) The staying power of these songs is a testament to their musical worth. “Joy to the World”, in particular, was composed in 1719 by Isaac Watts. To give a point of reference, Joy to the World is older than the United States of America, older than our grandparents, older than us. Here is my favorite version of “Joy to the World”:

Mariah Carey, having eighteen number one pop singles on the Billboard Hot 100, is, needless to say, qualified to sing such an important, such an ancient hymn. With the gospel choir as her wings, Carey expresses the message of this song (joy) in a way no other modern singer has expressed it. She really does have that “Je ne sais quoi” about her – it’s hard to describe in concrete words why this version of “Joy to the World” is my favorite. Perhaps she sounds happier than most modern pop singers; perhaps it’s her five-octave vocal range; perhaps it’s the harmonies of the jubilant gospel choir that make me like this song.

Now unfortunately, my caroling group is not singing this version of Joy to the World; sadly, none of us have anything resembling a five-octave vocal range. Still, we keep the art of caroling alive by singing caroling gigs at various places throughout our city. And caroling needs to be kept alive in order to keep balance in the music world. I have absolutely no worries about this, however, as I am sure we all know that Justin Bieber’s and Nicki Minaj’s will not be relevant three hundred years from now.

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