Some of our favourite contemporary artists turn their hand to the world’s most loved Christmas carols.
Sufjan Stevens – I Saw Three Ships
Bing Crosby – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Johnny Cash – Away In A Manger
Kate Rusby – Here We Come A-Wassailing
Bert Jansch – In The Bleak Midwinter
Bright Eyes – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
King’s College Choir- Gabriel’s Message
The Beach Boys – We Three Kings
Frank Sinatra – O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
Mahalia Jackson – It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Barbra Streisand – I Wonder As I Wander
Bette Midler – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Perry Como – O Little Town Of Bethlehem
Westminster Cathedral Choir – Once In Royal David’s City
Elvis Presley – The First Noel
Whitney Houston – O Holy Night (Cantique De Noel)
Ella Fitzgerald – Angels We Have Heard On High
Sinead O’Connor – Silent Night
Christmas carols have been with us for centuries, long before Bing was singing about his dream of a white one or Wham! had revealed their story of broken December love. The continuing popularity of the humble carol can be put down to our faith in good old fashioned songwriting and the long lost art of storytelling. For all this our playlist mostly sticks to renditions of olden carols from contemporary artists, though the Westminster Cathedral and King’s College choirs make their presence felt.
One of the oldest carols on this playlist, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)’ was faithfully recorded by Frank Sinatra and his big voice does justice to this most cherished of compositions. ‘Silent Night’ is another favourite and was written in Germany in 1818 as ‘Stille Nacht’. Franz Xaver Gruber himself would have been impressed by Sinead O’Connor’s hymnal and unforgettable performance. Such has been the impact of ‘Silent Night’ that in 2011 UNESCO awarded it the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage. No Christmas Eve would seem complete without it.
While you’ll know most of the carols in this collection there are a couple that may be new to you. One such is ‘Here Come A-Wassailing’ which was released by British folk artist Kate Rusby a few years back. Wassailing refers to the old English practise of giving alms, mostly warm food, to the poor over Christmas time in return for song performance and music playing. ‘I Wonder As I Wander’ originated from the other side of the water in the early part of the 20th century and took its inspiration from composer John Jacob Niles’ adventures through a barren California.