The North Thompson Community Chorus is presenting its second annual Christmas Concert – Christmas Carols Through The Ages.
Christmas classics are a great way to reconnect with the great Christmas songs that people have enjoyed throughout the years; …plus, according to chorus conductor, Leah Jones, you can “Get a Handle on Handel this Christmas!”
Not only will there be a journey through time visiting the earliest of Christmas carols (900 BC) through to the present, but there will also be some of the ‘magnificents’ that were so popular in their day, and are still the most performed Christmas works in western music.
During intermission and complimentary refreshments, attendees can enjoy a Christmas carol sing-a-long. Belt out your favourites to one of the valley’s most accomplished pianists.
The Community Chorus will be performing in Barriere on Dec. 22, at 3 p.m., at the Christian Life Pentecostal Church. In Clearwater they are performing at the Ski Hill Lodge on Dec. 20, at 7 p.m., and a shorter program on Dec. 21, at the Upper Clearwater Community Hall at 2 p.m.
Did you know that carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced around stone circles.
The word ‘carol’ actually means ‘dance’, or a song of praise and joy. Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.
Early Christians took over the pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas and gave people Christian songs to sing instead of pagan ones.
Soon after this, many composers all over Europe started to write Christmas carols. However, not many people liked them, as they were all written and sung in Latin, a language that the normal people couldn’t understand.
By the time of the Middles Ages (the 1200’s), most people had lost interest in celebrating Christmas altogether!
This was changed by St. Francis of Assisi, when in 1223, he started his Nativity Plays in Italy. Normally they were all in a language that the people watching the play could understand and join in. They soon began to spread all over Europe.
Carols were usually sung in homes rather than in churches. Traveling singers or minstrels started singing these carols, and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling. One carol that changed like this is ‘I Saw Three Ships’.
When Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England in 1647, the celebration of Christmas and singing carols was stopped. However, the carols continued to survive as people still sang them in secret.
Also, at this time, many orchestras and choirs were being set up in the cities of England, and people wanted Christmas songs to sing; so carols once again became popular. Many new carols, such as ‘Good King Wenceslas’, were also written in the Victorian period.
New carol services were created and became popular, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets, with both of these customs are still popular today.