The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs by Andrew Gant
Age range: adult
Genre: Nonfiction, history
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 15, 2015)
Source: BookLook Blogger program
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
About The Carols of Christmas:
From Oxford professor and renowned British composer, a joyous account of the history behind our favorite carols.
Everyone loves a carol—in the end, even Ebenezer Scrooge. They have the power to summon up a special kind of mid-winter mood, like the aroma of gingerbread or the twinkle of lights on a tree. It’s a kind of magic.
But how did they get that magic? Andrew Gant—choirmaster, church musician, university professor, and writer—tells the story of some twenty carols, each accompanied by lyrics and music, unraveling a captivating, and often surprising, tale of great musicians and thinkers, saints and pagans, shepherd boys and choirboys. Readers get to delve into the history of such favorites as “Good King Wenceslas,” “Away in a Manger,” and “O, Tannenbaum,” discovering along the way how “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” came to replace “Hark, how all the welkin’ ring” and how Ralph Vaughan Williams applied the tune of an English folk song about a dead ox to a poem by a nineteenth century American pilgrim to make “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
A charming book that brims with anecdote, expert knowledge, and Christmas spirit, this is a fittingly joyous account of one of the best-loved musical traditions.
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My Thoughts on The Carols of Christmas:
Have you ever wondered how we got the carols of Christmas? I picked this book up thinking it would be a light, easy read about the Christmas songs I love so much. I admit that I was surprised when I realized that this book was not an easy read. It’s very informative and well researched. The history behind the songs is interesting, and the author goes into great detail over various versions and revisions of the songs.
The book was more in depth than I had hoped for and most of the musical jargon was lost on me, but the author’s passion for the songs and their histories was obvious. If you share this passion, I would recommend reading it because the stories behind the songs are worth knowing.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.