Five pearls of Christmas playlist

Of all the Christian holidays Christmas is more than tradition, which developed over centuries in different countries. Christmas tree, theatrical performances, gifts and a variety of music, from solemn, deep, full of high poetry of the hymns of festive worship to the simple, but beloved by many generations of folk songs.

Song of the Angels / William-Adolphe Bouguereau

  • The Abbot Peter (Meshaninov): “Johann Sebastian Bach. Theology in sound”
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  • The ensemble “Sirin” – good music from good people (VIDEO)
  • The music of Christmas (video)

1. J. S. Bach. Christmas oratorio

I Barocchisti, Corro della RTSI, D. Fasolis (Switzerland)

Perhaps, for many people, this monumental work by the great German — the most important and most precious musical offering Christ from the Christmas musical heritage.

Already the first sounds — the drums, Trilling flutes, and then the entry of the orchestra, and finally hammered “Jauchzet, frolocket!” – according to many people are able to summon Christmas cheer in the heat of summer and in autumn bad weather.

Interestingly, in the German cities the first part of the oratorio, dedicated to the birth of Christ, often used for Christmas flash mobs, which sometimes in crowded places going to entire orchestras.

The oratorio was first performed in the Christmas season of 1734-1735 years in the Leipzig churches of St. Nicholas and St. Thomas. During this period of his life the composer was Cantor (choir Director, music Director and composer) and teacher of theology school of St. Thomas — the oldest, known since the XIII century educational institution.

This school is now, perhaps, became the main stronghold for the preservation of Bach’s heritage and its Christian and humanitarian orientation was preserved even in the darkest years of Nazi and Communist domination. This school was taught by Martin Luther, it was visited by Mozart, and her party were not the only who later became famous composers the sons of Bach or Richard Wagner, but also such different people as the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, the anti-Nazi resistance hero Claus von of Donagi and chief of the Navy of Germany, historian Admiral Friedrich Ruge.

The oratorio consists of six cantatas that are performed in different days the Christmas time. The first part is about the birth of the Savior (fulfilled in the day of Christmas), the second angelic message to the shepherds on Christmas (performed on the second day of Christmas), the third the adoration of the shepherds to the infant Jesus (third day), the fourth the circumcision and naming of Jesus (the first day of the New year), the fifth — the journey of the Magi (second of January) and the sixth — the adoration of the Magi (Epiphany).

Readers (and listeners) will see the oratorio performed by the Swiss chamber orchestra, I Barocchisti and the chorus of Swiss radio (Lugano).

This option was not chosen by chance — the most eminent performers of the Christmas oratorio play it too solemnly (why music becomes heavy, unwieldy), and the band played it just a little bit faster than its usually played, but that gave the music a new breath of life.

2. “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

The King’s Singers (UK), Mormon Tabernacle Choir (USA)

Advent (advent) and Christmas time in the West — the season of Christmas concerts. Traditionally one of the most ambitious of these concerts gives the Mormon Tabernacle choir is the main musical group of this Christian denomination – in the conference center of the Tabernacle in salt lake.

A Grand choir of 360 members, accompanied by the orchestra of 110 musicians, however — only a background for their additional well-known musicians. By the way, tickets for this concert is free — you can win them in the lottery.

In 2007, the guest stars were members of the London men’s choral ensemble “The King’s Singers”, which is in particular performed the English Christmas song “the 12 days of Christmas”. This song appeared in the late eighteenth century (and perhaps having the French original), the main character in each verse, starting with the second repeated sets of gifts (Christmas every day sweetheart gives by songs partridges, geese, etc.) from the previous verses, and the number of gifts the same as with mentioned in the verse of the day from the beginning of Christmas.

The performance of this song was, perhaps, the most striking room of the already brilliant concert — literally every line was illustrated by actors, dancers and musicians.

3. Little Drummer Boy

Pentatonix (USA)

This song was written relatively recently — in 1955, but perhaps it has an earlier origin.

In it the history of Christmas is described from a boy named shepherd, who is good at only one thing — to play the drum. Older his name is a — come, the angels from heaven said the Savior was born, let us adore Him. A little perplexed — because I have nothing there, I’ll go with empty hands?

But, it turns out, the game on the old, beat-up reel — nice gift for the King of Kings, especially when lying in the cave with the ox and lamb help keep the rhythm.

Of course, this song has no theological depth and beauty of the Christmas oratorio, but she’s good to give hope — even our most modest skills, offer a gift to God from the heart, are in His sight of more value than all the gold in the world.

This song was translated into many languages and performed, perhaps, hundreds of artists and bands, but the American a capella ensemble “Pentatonix” invested in its execution some kind of strange power, which in a simple song there is something characteristic of Daro – or even sacrifice — it seems that the performers were able to capture the inspiration of a child playing “their best rhythms” Born of Christ.


4. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

Regensburger Domspatzen (Germany)

What comes to mind to anyone brought up in Western culture the man who hears the word “Christmas”? Bearded Santa Claus, gifts, figurines, angels, Christmas tree… children’s choirs, acting with concerts in churches, concert halls and on television.

Indeed, what could be emilienne kind of angelic children, dressed in stylized medieval monastic vestments robes or sailor shirts, singing songs about Baby Jesus. Most often these songs have a similar harmony — smooth, combed as a first-grader before the matinee, September 1. But not all traditional Christmas music — this is worn in the celebratory repertoire and things that sound if a person enters cold water.

The song “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (“the rose grew”) is known from the end of XVI century — it was first published in the collection of hymns of the Cathedral in Speyer, published in Cologne in 1599. The text is a poetic reflection of the words of the prophet Isaiah “and it will branch from the stump of Jesse”. In the imagination of the nameless poet of this industry is the Christ, proizrosshaya from the root — the virgin Mary — has become a rose flower.

The music of this song from another era, when music was written and perceived completely different from the modern way. She is strict in some mystical, collecting intelligence and causing in imagination the place of his creation — the Grand Romanesque Imperial Cathedral of Speyer. The team, whose performance is given in the review, the music is the oldest European musical group whose continuous existence for more than 1000 years, the boys choir of the Regensburg Cathedral Domspatzen Regensburger.

5. Sã qui turo zente pleta

Musica temprana (Netherlands)

“Hey, all black people of Guinea, hehe, let’s celebrate the baby Emmanuel, hehe!”

We are all so used to the fact that Christmas is a winter holiday that the words about “the black people of Guinea” may cause bordering on “break the pattern” is puzzling. However, the music, completing our short survey belongs to the tradition which has 400 years or more.

The small Portuguese nation has great contributions to humanity — not least because it gave the world… the world. Yes, 2/3 of the current world is open by Portuguese explorers. Unfortunately, the Great geographical discoveries in the vanguard were fearless warriors of Prince Enrique the Navigator, there were negative side — that the Portuguese became the ancestors of the European slave trade.

Known even date the emergence of the first black slaves in the Lisbon market — 1441, and the name of the first slaver — Antonio Goncalves. After 100 years a slave-Guinean was each 10th inhabitant of the Portuguese capital. On arrival in Lisbon of all the black slaves mandatory baptized, and they all became members of one of the parishes, including that provided assistance to these unfortunate people (with abuse of the hosts, when separated families, etc.) and sometimes even demanded the release of their parishioners.

In this environment originated its own distinctive culture that combines the tradition of their distant African homeland and customs of Portugal. An echo of this was the manuscript from which was borrowed the last song of our review.

A nameless monk of the monastery of SV. Cross in Coimbra, in the seventeenth century left the book, which is carefully copied known Christmas songs, in Portuguese called “villancico”. Usually “villancico” is the people’s “village” song, originated in Portugal itself (in Spain, a similar tradition), but due to the fact that both countries had extensive colonies in different parts of the world, lived people from the countries subject to them, there were Christmas songs composed by them — “villancico ethnics”.

In turn, their subspecies was “villancicos of Negros” – songs composed in the community Lisbon Africans. And thanks to the efforts of one humble monk musical heritage Christian Guineans XVI-XVII centuries survived till our days and is stored in the library, the oldest Portuguese University of Coimbra.

Well, let’s take the example of our African brethren, spiritual flute and castanets, and exclaim: “Biba mia Siola (long live my Lady, i.e. the virgin Mary) y biba Zuze (and long live Joseph)! Biba Manue (all hail Emmanuel)!”

Congratulations, dear, and let this music make Christmas even happier.

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