Kaye’s Corner: Holiday music

Soon after Thanksgiving, I start listening to holiday music. I enjoy all kinds of holiday music from the classic to religious hymns and old favorites. I especially appreciate talented pianists. Sometimes I sing along to old favorites from my childhood and other times, I just appreciate the beauty of the music and performers.

Colorado Public Radio has been conducting its annual favorite carol survey. Every week the list gets narrowed down to one final favorite. Personally, I think it is hard to pick one favorite — like picking your favorite flower or vacation spot. I love them all.

Because I learned the song, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” at church camp, for years I thought of it as a camp song, like “Kum By Yah,” “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” and similar. As an adult, I finally paid attention to the words and discovered it is a Christmas song heralding the arrival of Christ.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is always a tear-jerker for anyone not at home over the holidays. This piece still evokes childhood Christmas celebrations in my Indiana home with lots of cookies, awesome food, sharing with family, and the simple joys of being secure at home.

How could you not be stirred by “Let It Snow” when we need all the moisture we can get in western Colorado? Written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in July 1945, it reminds us that a white Christmas is always special even if fresh snow only occurs about one third of the time on Dec. 25 in Colorado.

If you prefer something lighter, there’s always “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and plenty of playful songs too.

On the classical side, Handel’s “Messiah” holds a long history at both Easter and Christmas. The entire work is long and serious, but the famous “Hallelujah Chorus” will get you on your feet rejoicing. It is traditional to stand for this piece because in 1743 King George II was so moved, he stood up. Following royal protocol that if the king stood, everyone stood and so we still honor that tradition today.

I truly appreciate the a cappella (just voices, no music) Pentatonix, a creative group of  five vocalists from Arlington, Texas. And then there’s the compelling Mannheim Steamroller music group with their modern and vibrant versions of holiday songs and more.

A recent discovery is “Mary Did You Know?” It is a compelling lyric wondering if Mary knew she was to bear the Son of God. That’s a storyline not often told. Song writer Mark Lowry produced it in 1984 for his Baptist Church in Virginia and now it is heard in many places.

Listening to the radio and Pandora, I also learn new music or at least it is new to me. Likewise in my piano music, I discover music from other countries or generations or song writers that bring me joy.

Whatever your preference, please enjoy the holiday music, sing along, and make yourself merry!

By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times

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