The Christmas Carols You Won’t Hear at the Mall

This weekend I realized I owned no Christmas music, so I downloaded a couple of albums from iTunes… the kind of music I remember my mother playing on the stereo at Christmas, the kind I heard on Christmas eve in the crowded church while waiting for midnight mass to start… the kind you won’t hear from the loudspeakers in any public place because it is much too religious. (The closest I ever got was a movie theater a few years ago, waiting for one of the Lord of the Rings installments, the were playing a Christmas medley that switched songs right before they got to the name Christ.)

I found two reasonably priced albums (hard to beat 6 bucks a pop!) Christmas at Trinity (from Trinity Church on Wall Street in NY) and Christmas Carols from Tewkesbury Abbey.

I especially love the old English songs… Adam Lay Y-Bounden, I Wondered as I Wandered, Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming, The Holly and the Ivy, etc.

And I adore In the Bleak Midwinter, words by Christina Rosetti, the sadly lesser-known poet, sister of the famous pre-raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti. That last line always clenches my heart: “What shall I give him? Give him my heart.”

There are still some great classics missing from my collection, but now I’ve got 2 solid hours of music. I fell asleep on the couch yesterday listening to them, the snow falling softly outside… a perfect wintry day.

I have to add that I’m glad we’ll be in Austin for Christmas, the wonderful choir at St Louis (my mom sings with them) will be sure to sing some of my favorites. I somehow doubt I can say the same for the choir at our Salem parish.

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