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Charles Dickens Christmas Carols

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I am invited to play at a Charles Dickens-themed event next month. There is no requirement of historical accuracy but I am curious what carols and Christmas music would have been played on concertina in Victorian times and in what settings. Were Christmas carols that we know now performed to different tunes then?

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The last half of the 1800's was perhaps the heyday of Christmas carol composition, and many have survived as favorites up to the present day. You can easily check the dates online via Wikipedia ,or in The Oxford Book of Carols, or maybe even your favorite hymnal.

 

And yes, lyrics were often set to different tunes even then - when deciding what to put in "Christmas Concertina", I ended up including two different tunes for "Away in a Manger" and "The Holly and the Ivy", and selected one of the many tunes for "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks". I just now realized that for whatever unknown reason I neglected to include dates and authorship of all the songs in the book - I need to correct that and give credit where credit is due since they are all such great songs and tunes.

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover

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I have a nice CD called 'Christmas with Dickens'… Festive music from the life and works of Charles Dickens. Here's a list of the songs...

 

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I am a fan of Victorian (or before) Christmas music on the concertina. Some of my favorites:

 

Bagpipers Carol - Traditional carol performed by hill shepherds in the Southern Italy. Respeghi used it as a theme in "Three Botticelli Pictures". Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains did a great instrumental version of it in his Overture on the excellent CD "Silent Night: A Christmas in Rome". Pete Seeger wrote words to it. Traditionally the shepherds came down from the hills to the towns on Christmas Eve to perform this song on early instruments including a giant bagpipe and a oboe like instrument. Rick Steeves documented the tradition in modern day southern Italy one of his Christmas specials in which the participants were playing a sax and an accordian!

 

Knock at the Knocker and Ring at the Bell - A great Victorian caroling song and the title song of a Christmas CD by Magpie Lane.

 

I Saw Three Ships - This is not the standard carol but a much earlier version that chronicles St Helena's move of the Three Wise Men's skulls from Bethlehem to the Cologne Cathedral where they still reside.

 

Good King Weceslas - Fun on the concertina, about a king who lived and died before the Feast of St. Steven was invented!

 

November Drinking Song - Good rollicking Revels song about drinking.

 

A Virgin Unspotted - Same words, older tune

 

Come Fill Up Your Glasses - With seasonal lyrics written by Peggy Seeger to the tune of "Pretty Polly Perkins from Paddington Green"

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Ed Sweeny produced an album called "Inside Fezziwigs" and subtitled "A Dickens Christmas" It is a great album. Here is the track list

 

1. Gloucestershire Wassail

2. Silent Night
3. Leading of the Star/Snowflake Reel
4. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella/I Saw Three Ships
5. Away in a Manger
6. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
7. Coventry Carol
8. Sussex Carol
9. Ode to Joy/Angels We Have Heard on High
10. O Holy Night
11. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
12. Christmas Bells
13. Planxty Irwin
14. Good Christian Men, Rejoice
15. Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)
16. Sir Roger de Coverley
17. Good King Wenceslas

 

Sir Roger de Coverly is a great slip jig style piece that should sound wonderful on concertina.

Edited by cboody

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I am a fan of Victorian (or before) Christmas music on the concertina. Some of my favorites:

 

Bagpipers Carol - Traditional carol performed by hill shepherds in the Southern Italy. Respeghi used it as a theme in "Three Botticelli Pictures". Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains did a great instrumental version of it in his Overture on the excellent CD "Silent Night: A Christmas in Rome". Pete Seeger wrote words to it. Traditionally the shepherds came down from the hills to the towns on Christmas Eve to perform this song on early instruments including a giant bagpipe and a oboe like instrument. Rick Steeves documented the tradition in modern day southern Italy one of his Christmas specials in which the participants were playing a sax and an accordian!

 

Knock at the Knocker and Ring at the Bell - A great Victorian caroling song and the title song of a Christmas CD by Magpie Lane.

 

I Saw Three Ships - This is not the standard carol but a much earlier version that chronicles St Helena's move of the Three Wise Men's skulls from Bethlehem to the Cologne Cathedral where they still reside.

 

Good King Weceslas - Fun on the concertina, about a king who lived and died before the Feast of St. Steven was invented!

 

November Drinking Song - Good rollicking Revels song about drinking.

 

A Virgin Unspotted - Same words, older tune

 

Come Fill Up Your Glasses - With seasonal lyrics written by Peggy Seeger to the tune of "Pretty Polly Perkins from Paddington Green"

 

I looked at the Magpie Lane album entitled "Knock at the Knocker..." and there is no such piece on it. I'm trying to find it and the "November Drinking Song" (the dots) and have been unsuccessful. Any suggestions?

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I checked the songs on the Knock at the Knocker and Ring at the Bell album. The November Drinking song is there but the other one I mis-titled - its called the Wren Boys' song.

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