These first two weeks of December are always very special for us Daughters of St. Paul. These are the weeks of our Christmas concerts (click here to listen to a sample of the concert favorites from 2016 released on a new CD). This year the sisters who record the albums for the Daughters of St. Paul Choir performed in New York, Staten Island, Boston, St. Louis and Cleveland. In the words of Sr Julia Darrenkamp from the Daughters of St. Paul Choir, “music is the only art that will live forever in heaven, and the only art that we’ll take with us to heaven.” A perfect reflection for Christmas when the angels first filled the earth with the resounding hymn of glad tidings: Gloria, the King of Kings is born! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria, your salvation is near at hand! Gloria to God in the highest!
Number One Christmas Carol in Heaven
Sr. Julia believes that of all the Christmas songs—and she did look up how many there are—O Come All Ye Faithful must be heaven’s number one Christmas carol. It proclaims again and again without tiring the desire of all the angels that we, each and every one of us, through all of history, make the journey to Bethlehem in our hearts.
Number of Unique Christmas Carols (on earth)
So, how much Christmas music is there? In December of 2014, music and data nerd Aaron Daubman went through Spotify and Echo Nest music catalog and found just under a million Christmas tacks. The 914,047 tracks he counted represent 180,660 unique songs created by 63,711 unique artists.
Top Five Artists of Christmas Songs
The top five artists with the most releases of their Christmas songs found in Spotify and Echo Nest are: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Christmas albums recorded by the Daughters of St. Paul Choir
Most Recorded Christmas Songs
Sr. Julia says O Come All Ye Faithful is tops in heaven. However, when we look at the Christmas songs most recorded by any artist (on earth, that is), the top 20 won’t surprise us. In order: Silent Night (19041 recordings); White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Joy to the World, The First Noel, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, O Holy Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, The Christmas Song, Away in a Manger, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, O Come All Ye Faithful, Deck the Halls, Silver Bells, Ave Maria, What Child Is This?
The First Christmas Carols
The First Christmas Carol was called “Angel’s Hymn.” In 129, a Roman Bishop said it should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome. Comas of Jerusalem wrote another famous Christmas hymn in 760 for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon after this composers all over Europe started to write “Christmas carols.” These were not popular as they were in Latin and people couldn’t understand them, and by the Middle Ages people had lost interest in celebrating Christmas. Francis of Assisi changed this. In 1223 he began his Nativity Plays in Italy during which people sang songs in their own language while watching the plays. These new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany, and other European countries.
Christmas Carols Written by Jewish Musicians
Many of our beloved Christmas carols sung in America were written by Jews: White Christmas, Let It Snow, Santa Baby, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Silver Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Those not mentioned could fill an album. Jews flocked to the music industry in the first half of the 20th century. It was one business where they didn’t face overwhelming anti-Semitism. The Christmas songs they wrote are not religious songs, but about the trappings of Christmas. In their music and lyrics, Jews captured Christmas not only as a wonderful, wintry time for family gatherings, but also as an American holiday. What they drew on was their background as the children of European-born Jews, or as immigrants themselves.
Number of New Christmas Recordings Released During the Christmas Holidays
On Spotify alone thousands of Christmas albums are added weekly during the Christmas Season. To see the albums added in the last two weeks click here. http://static.echonest.com/TisTheSeason/
Christmas Song with the Longest Name
First place for the Christmas song with the longest name goes to this medley: Andrea und Manuela – Morgen kommt der Weohnachtsmann – Medley / Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann/Leise rieselt der Schnee/Oh du Fröhliche/Ihr Kinderlein kommet/Süßer die Glocken nie klingen/Oh Tannenbaum/Kling Glöckchen/Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht/Alle Jahre wieder – Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann/Leise rieselt der Schnee/Oh du Fröhliche/Ihr Kinderlein kommet/Süßer die Glocken nie klingen/Oh Tannenbaum/Kling Glöckchen/Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht/Alle Jahre wieder
The Newest Christmas Album by the Daughters of St. Paul Choir
With such a marvelous history, Christmas carols continue to bring joy and peace during this holy Season. Listen to a sample of the new Christmas music recorded by the Daughters of St. Paul for this year's concert: Christmas Concert Favorites.
I love to listen to Christmas music from the beginning of Advent through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I know it isn't liturgically correct, but the music fills me with happiness and helps keep me connected to why I've given my life to continue announcing the message of the angels that Jesus is the gift of God's mercy to all of us. I have a favorite Christmas Carol: Little Drummer Boy.
by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP