Monthly Archives: December 2011

Once in Royal David’s City…

I don’t know why, but this is the first year I have ever gotten off my butt to figure out when and where I might be able to hear the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast from King’s College in Cambridge…

WFMT lost the feed for a few minutes, but they got it back somewhere in Peter Cornelius’s lovely “The Three Kings.” (I love that…once I got to sing the solo part with my women’s quartet in the SSAA arrangement, although the other 3 didn’t love it the way I did, and it’s far superior with a nice rich baritone on the solo, my mezzo pride will even let me admit.) I miss the old not-as-exciting Willcocks descant for Once In Royal David’s City, the one I learned when I was about 8, but I do love that they use the chestnut descants for O Come and Hark the Herald.

This Christmas, especially musically, I’m thinking a lot about my grandmother, who died three Christmases ago sometime in the small hours of the morning. I returned from Midnight Mass and moments later got a phone call from my mom saying that she’d just quietly gone. I still hold in my heart the thought that she wanted to hear Silent Night sung at church one more time and slipped her spirit over to my sleepy parish church on her way home, because the timing was perfect.

My grandmother was where my love for Christmas music was born and grew. Silent Night. Once in Royal David’s City–she had the LP of Lessons and Carols and we listened to it every year. (I can to this day recite the first lesson, complete with sweet chorister Queen’s English accent, from memory.) The Boston Camerata–she loved the baritone’s rendition of the Gloucestershire Wassail…

I find I’m missing her more this year than any other Christmas since she died, ¬†and weeping more when I hear particular pieces of music. She loved Christmas so much–the music more than anything.