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Just finished watching Lucy Worsley's BBC2's prog on Christmas carols. It's time for a rant from your humble Yak.
During this programme, many of the carols were first played as instrumentals. These versions were "at pace" and lively. By the time the words were added and sung (the exception probably, just about, being that sung in the pub), the carols degenerated into dirges of varying degrees of misery, emotional face distorting, hand waving and wringing, and direness.
Why? I suspect the Puritan/Protestant/Socialist need to remove joy is one part, another is a drive to show some misguided display of personal sanctimoniousness. Certainly, there were many expressions of primness and priggishness.
But Christmas is a time of cheer and, as I said, joy in Jesus's birth and all its significance, even to the non-religious and the non-Christian. Two thousand one hundred years has embedded Christian precepts, ethics and morals throughout much of world society, despite the current and previous attempts by Islam and Socialism to return society to more primitive attitudes and behaviours.
abelard asked what is it that they're doing. I said, I reckon they have slowed the carols down to half the original pace. I'd need to see the scores from when the carols first became widespread to be sure.
There is another reason not to sing carols as dirges. It gets bl***dy freezing when carol singing, so fast-moving is needed for everything!
"Fresh and lively", though not perfect!
This music for 'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day' was written for the girls of Saint Paul's Girls' School (SPGS) by its then director of music, John Gardner who died ten years ago. Many choral groups have since attempted to sing this carol, mostly as the famous dirge, as singing correctly requires mathematical self-discipline.
Here's a dirge version:
Note this carol can even be raced, and be too fast, as here!
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