Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

My first Christmas in Semarang, Indonesia was limited to a sparse selection of Christmas Music. All I had were the Christmas carols in the LDS hymnbook that I could play on a small pump organ and a single cassette of Christmas music entitled "I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You." read more here:

The next Christmas in Jakarta I hit the Christmas music bonanza when I found a "Best of Christmas" cassette tape for sell at a small cassette kiosk in Blok M. It was a collection of favorite Christmas songs--sacred and secular. The cassette is long since gone, but for years and years after my mission I played it and sang along with it every season as I drove to and fro. I don't remember the entire play list, but here are three renditions that I distinctly remember. They all bring back happy memories of my second Christmas in Indonesia and many Christmases since. If you are going to listen to just one, pick the last one. It is amazing.

A soulful rendition of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"from deep singing Mahalia Jackson.
Mahalia Jackson singing "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

A fun cheerful rendition of "Winter Wonderland" by husband and wife team Steve Lawrence and Eddie Gorme. My younger brother Jake would always request to listen to this song during the drives to and from December ski days Beaver Mountain
  Winter Wonderland Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

And my all time favorite rendition of a Christmas Carol: "Oh Come All ye Faithful" featuring the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in an album entitled "The Joy of Christmas." I love the brass, the bells, the tempo, the enthusiasm, the meaning. The arrangement is by LeRoy Robertson. For many years it seemed like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir preferred more subdued, meditative renditions of Oh Come all ye Faithful. Happily this year the Choir has started singing it again, but not with the same sparkle as this 1963 recording--perhaps because the orchestral accompaniment of the Orchestra at Temple Square does not shine forth like Bernstein allows the NY Philharmonic to do.

The Joy of Christmas, Leonard Bernstein and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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