Prompt: What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go carolling? Did you have a favorite song?
We used to listen Christmas music through much of the month of December. There were the more ‘religious’ songs – Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger – and the more ‘secular’ ones – Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We listened to albums, mostly, although I am sure there was a fair bit of singing, too. Today, I try to sing Christmas carols but the preschooler tends to tell me to keep quiet. It’s ok if the preschooler is singing, but it’s not ok for me to sing along!
I went carolling exactly once. I was in my late teens/early twenties and was involved with a youth group. We went out on a snowy winter evening and sang at several houses in the neighbourhood. I don’t remember much more than the fact it was pretty cold!
My favourites when I was younger are similar to my favourites now. I have always liked We Three Kings, O Holy Night and Do You Hear What I Hear? I tend towards the more traditional, apparently.
Excerpt from Where the Saints Have Trod, Judith St. John, 1974 (Oxford University Press). The book is based on the author’s childhood memories (ca 1914-1924). She was my great-aunt.
“ “What will be the first Christmas hymn we sing this year?” my father asked. We always sang a hymn after supper. We didn’t sing church Christmas carols like “Hark! The herald angels sing” or “Joy to the world”, nor Sunday School carols like “We three kings” and “Once in royal David’s city”; we sang very private Christmas hymns my mother taught us that no one else in Lukefield knew.
“ “Let’s sing “Once a little Baby lay, Cradled in the fragrant hay”.” It was always my mother’s favourite. It was good to hear it once again. It had lain quietly in my mind for eleven long months.
“ “What Santa Claus piece shall we sing?” said mother. It was difficult to choose. We were all quiet for a moment, remembering old favourites.
“ “I’ll choose, “Santa Claus will come tonight, if you’re good”,” I said. I liked the motions we used while we lustily sang that song. When it was over we played: “What would you like for Christmas”. We each had a turn to give a heart’s desire. “A toy typewriter,” I said. “A fur muff,” said Elizabeth. “Roget’s Thesaurus,” said my father. “A feather boa,” said mother. We were all ready and waiting with longed-for treasures.”