'Tis the Season for Christmas Songs

It's that time of year again. This morning for church I practiced "Oh Come All Ye Faithful,"Emmanuel," and a few others. We're supposed to do "Go Tell It On the Mountain," but I don't have the music to it ... so I went through my old music and found a book of Christmas Carols for Level Four Piano, edited by David Carr Glover. I wrote down the chords, and voila! I now have the music.

I think Christmas carols are tricky, partly because we only play them for three weeks out of the year. So it's almost like I re-learn them every December, and I never feel like I quite have them down. I've always found "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" particularly difficult to play well, since the chords change with nearly every beat.

The bad thing is that everyone knows these pieces, so the pressure's on to play them exactly right--to give them what they're used to hearing.

The good thing is that people generally sing Christmas carols so loudly and with such gusto that they either won't notice or won't care if there's a missed note here and there.

I think my favorite carols to play are "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger." When I was in my 20s, I worked out a little conglomeration of "Away in a Manger" and the famous Brahms Lullaby. I knew nothing about counterpoint or harmony at the time, so it's not a very polished little composition. But I thought it was cool how the two shared a lot of chords and chord changes, and I had fun weaving them together.

OK. Time for a shower. Considering I have 2 hours of church, 5 hours of work and 2 hours of running today, it looks like this morning's Christmas practice is the only one I'll have today.


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