Tag Archives: carols

Fun Filled Christmas Facts and Sing-along


Enter a word from a Christmas song, like “drummer” and sing along
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blankEach year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

blankToday, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today’s Mardi Gras parties.

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From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

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Christmas wasn’t a holiday in early America—in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country’s first Christmas under the new constitution.

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Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.

blankThe first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

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blankThe Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

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blankChristmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

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Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

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Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.


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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I

A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I


Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

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Christmas Truce on WWI Battlefield Inspires Theater Show 94 Years Later

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

A 2008 national theater production, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” was based on that historic moment, when an extraordinary night of camaraderie brought the spirit of the holidays even into the darkest of places. Written by Peter Rothstein, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, the presentation features a cast of actors and vocalists who use letters, journals, official war documents, gravestone inscriptions and songs associated with the spontaneous truce to re-create a remarkable sequence of wartime events.

Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in ‘No Man’s Land’,” said Rothstein, who traveled to museums and libraries in Belgium and London as part of a two- year effort to collect first-hand accounts of the truce. “They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum and chocolates, even photographs of loved ones. They sang songs, played a game of soccer and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.”

That tale, which remains as poignant today as 94 years ago, was re-told on Christmas Day, when “All is Calm” was broadcast to more than 400 public radio stations in the United States as well as on the BBC in Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand. The production featured members of the Minneapolis-based Cantus vocal ensemble and the Theater Latte Da acting troupe.

That these soldiers chose to honor the spirit of Christmas in the midst of chaos is a fitting reason to revisit their actions, Rothstein said, especially as conflicts continue to be waged across the globe.

It is a story that should be heard, especially today,” he said. “A month before the Christmas Truce of 1914, Winston Churchill (who would go on to serve as British Prime Minister during World War II) stated, ‘What would happen, I wonder, if the armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike, and said some other method must be found of settling this dispute?’ I hope people leave the theater moved, enlightened and pondering Churchill’s prophetic statement.”

Joyeux Noël (2005)

In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man’s Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood….

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 19th)

The First Noël Performed by Allison Crowe

The First Nowell” (sometimes The First Noel or just Noel) is a traditional English Christmas carol, most likely from the 18th century. In its current form it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Some Ancient Christmas Carols (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Christmas Carols (1833), edited by William B. Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert. The melody is unusual among English folk melodies in that it consists of one musical phrase repeated twice, followed by a variation on that phrase. All three phrases end on the third of the scale. The refrain, also unusually, merely repeats the melody of the verse. It is thought to be a corruption of an earlier melody sung in a church gallery setting; a conjectural reconstruction of the earlier version can be found in the New Oxford Book of Carols .

The word Nowell comes from the French word Noël meaning “Christmas“, from the Latin word natalis (“birth“). It may also be from the Gaulish words “noio” or “neu” meaning “new” and “helle” meaning “light” referring to the winter solstice when sunlight begins overtaking darkness.


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Lyrics

The first Noel the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Refrain:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.
(Refrain)

And by the light of that same star
three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.
(Refrain)

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
o’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.
(Refrain)

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
full reverently upon the knee,
and offered there, in his presence,
gold and myrrh and frankincense.

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44-D’s Twenty-five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 15th)

Let It Snow Performed by Boys II Men

Boyz II Men are a Grammy Award-winning American group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Initiated during 1988 as a quintet which originally included Marc Nelson, Boyz II Men found fame as a quartet, with members Nathan Morris, Michael McCary, Shawn Stockman,and Wanya Morris on Motown Records during the early 1990s. Nelson left the group before their first recording to pursue a solo career. The group specialized in new jack swing-style music.

Based on sales, Boyz II Men is the most successful R&B male vocal group of all time. They recorded five number 1 R&B successes between 1992 and 1997 and have sold more than 60 million albums. Three of its number 1 hits, “End of the Road“, “I’ll Make Love to You“, and “One Sweet Day” (with Mariah Carey), set and exceeded records for the longest period of time a single remained scored at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100; “One Sweet Day” still holds the record. Although “On Bended Knee” did not exceed any records, it was still a very popular song that reached number 1 and made Boyz II Men the third artist (behind The Beatles and Elvis) to replace themselves at the number one rating of the Billboard Hot 100.


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Lyrics

Let It Snow Let it snow, Let it snow Hey, It’s another Christmas holiday
Its a joyous thing let the angels sing
Cause we’re together
We got a thing can’t let it slip away
No, outside its raining sleet
When our bodies meet
I don’t care about the weather CHORUS:
Let it snow, Let it snow
Outside its cold but the fire’s blazin’
So baby let it snow
Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow Ohhhh, come over here and help me trim the tree
I wanna wrap you up baby
Then you’ll see you’re the only present I need
There’s so much more
Waiting for you in store
From this precious day
I can gladly say
There’s no place I’d rather be
I know you are my everything, come a little closer
God must have sent you down from heaven CHORUS
Let it snow, Let it snow
Let it snow, Let it snow (Repeat 4x)
I don’t care what the weather may be
as long as you’re here with me. (Fade out)

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 14th)


Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Performed by Judy Garland

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a Christmas song introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics, which has become more common than the original. The song was credited to Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, although during a December 21, 2006 NPR interview, Martin said that Blane had encouraged him to write the song but had not had anything more to do with writing it. In 2007, ASCAP ranked “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” the third most performed Christmas song written by ASCAP members of the past five years.


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Lyrics

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 11th)

Blue Christmas Performed by Elvis Presley

Blue Christmas” is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. The heart-broken tale of unrequited love during the holidays had long been considered a Christmas staple of country music, having been recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1948. In 1957, Elvis Presley effectively made “Blue Christmas” a steadfast rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it in his signature style. The song has since been recorded by a host of rock and country artists alike, as well as those of other genres. The song was also featured in the children’s Christmas special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. More recently, the song has been covered by Céline Dion as well as the indie band Bright Eyes and Billy Idol in his 2006 Christmas album Happy Holidays.

Elvis Presley’s famous recording of the song appeared on his 1957 LP Elvis’ Christmas Album. It was also released as a single. Ernest Tubb’s version of the song included an extra verse not used by Elvis’ later version.

In 2009, Elvis’ version was used in a TV commercial for Verizon Wireless.


Lyrics

I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

And when those blue snowflakes start falling
That’s when those blue memories start calling
You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white
But I’ll have a blue, blue blue blue Christmas

(Instrumental Break)

You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 10th)

The Christmas Song Performed by Nat King Cole

The Christmas Song” (1944), commonly referred to as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire“ or “Merry Christmas to You”, is a classic Christmas song, written by vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool,” the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.

I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil,” Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”

The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole’s behest — and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records — a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Cole re-recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. The latter recording is generally regarded as definitive and continues to receive considerable radio airplay each holiday season, while Cole’s original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.

Lyrics

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright,
Tiny tots with their eyes all a-glow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh,
And ev’ry mother’s child is gonna spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said
Many times, Many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

[musical interlude]

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said
Many times, Many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

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