Christmas Carols

It sometimes seems that Christmas carols have been around since the dawn of time. We are relentlessly bombarded by them as we shop, they are on every radio station and on countless adverts on our TV screens. For some it seems that they cannot be escaped from and yet for others they bring a moment in this frenetic time of year to remember what we are celebrating, or perhaps to just smile.

In Italy around 1223, Saint Francis of Assisi started some Nativity plays. During the plays they sang ‘Canticles’. Many of the choruses of these canticles were in the local dialect, meaning the people could join in with these songs. This tradition grew and began to spread around Europe. These choruses have grown and survived as songs of the people, often sung in secret through the time of the puritans, they have continued to spread and become what we now call a carol.

The word carol actually means a dance or song of praise and joy. As a last reflection for this year we are looking at Christmas carols and have asked some young adults who have been involved in the National Youth Assembly to tell us about their favourites and what it means to them...

My favourite carol is "Silent Night". It really takes away all the story-like feel of the nativity scene and I remember that when Jesus was born he was just a tiny infant, and his parents were equally awed and terrified. I like that this carol makes me picture a real family, not just the serene pastel faces reproduced in every nativity scene. (Ruth)

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is one of my favourites. To me it encapsulates everything that makes me love this season. It's loud and celebratory and bombastic where I feel that many of faith put an emphasis on being quiet and solemn (plus it makes me all nostalgic for when I played it in high school wind band!). (Alison)

"O Holy Night" has a really stirring melody, particularly the chorus, and the words are a great balance of gentleness and grandeur. (Craig)

I like "The First Noel", don't know why but I just like hearing all the voices in my church sing it. I like all Christmas carols it gets me in the mood for Christmas and reminds of the story of Jesus's birth and how special it was. Bring on the Christmas songs and Carols! (Adam)

I love “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull”. It’s the bit that says ‘Oh come let us adore him’, it just builds and it’s like the excitement about Christmas builds to as we sing it. (Lorraine)

The Different Voices blog will be having a short break over Christmas and New Year but come back in 2015 as we have an exciting range of articles, interviews, new music, videos and resources lined up.

So for now, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.