Does this post’s title have you humming the Christmas song of the same name, or covering year’s ears, screaming “I can’t take it anymore!”? Carols and songs can do that to people, particularly those whose workplace plays holiday tunes from the open of business to its end.
I grew up listening to my dad’s collection of his era’s popular performers – Doris Day, Perry Como, Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence, Gene Autry – singing Christmas classics. “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Their voices became the sounds of Christmas to me and, though I like modern versions of “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” I’d rather have Mitch Miller and the Gang, Robert Goulet, and Rosemary Clooney keeping me company during my Christmas preparation.
Here are a few of my December favorites.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” – Whether sung by my church choir on Christmas morning or Bing Crosby, this carol always stirs my heart. A verse or two in Latin is a bonus for this Catholic school graduate who studied the ancient language for three years.
“Go Tell It On The Mountain” – Mahalia Jackson, of course.
“The Little Drummer Boy” – No matter the rendition – The New Christy Minstrels, The Harry Simeone Chorale, or Bing Crosby and David Bowie combo with “Peace on Earth” – I love the solemnity of this song. It’s quiet, rhythmic, and brings me right to the manger to adore the Holy Family.
“Toyland” – I just have to hear the opening notes of this Doris Day song and I’m back in second grade, hanging ornaments on the tree and hoping Santa Claus will bring me a Mrs. Beasley doll (he did).
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – I’ve never heard a version I didn’t like. Judy Garland (the first to sing it, in Meet Me In St. Louis), Rosemary Clooney, Linda Ronstadt, Chrissie Hynde, and Sara Hickman are just a few of the many artists who have recorded this beautiful song. Thank goodness lyricist Hugh Martin’s original lines were rejected by the Meet Me In St. Louis filmmakers: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last.”
“I Believe In Father Christmas” – I fell in love with this song, written by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield in protest of the commercialization of Christmas, when I was in college. Lake’s passing on December 7 makes the song’s lyric, “All anguish pain and sadness leave your heart and let your road be clear,” even more poignant.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – All great sing-along songs, yes? My family might not agree when I’m the one leading the chorus.
What Christmas carols and songs do you sing, or maybe just hum, at this time of year? Or are you tired of the music already and have tuned in to talk radio until January 1?