Advent activity #20

Today’s activity is one we had coincidentally already planned to do anyway, and it is WATCH CHRISTMASSY FILMS. We are saving Daiteiden no yoru ni and It’s A Wonderful Life for the 24th because that is when they are both set, so today we will be choosing between Last Christmas, which was fairly universally panned last year but which seems likely to hit about the right sort of note for 2020; Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey which you will find on Netflix and two Agatha Christies, because Agatha Christies are always Christmassy: the never-bettered 1980 Angela Lansbury/Elizabeth Taylor version of The Mirror Crack’d (look at that cast!) and the 1945 adaptation of And Then There Were None which I have never seen but which will certainly be the spookiest of all, and so should be saved for last.

We might also watch Bernard and the Genie, which is what happens when Richard Curtis makes a good Christmas film instead of a godawful one. It’s hard to find, but some thoughtful soul has posted the whole thing on YouTube.

We won’t be watching Hamilton because along with Spike Lee/David Byrne’s American Utopia we’ve already watched it too many times during lockdown, but I will watch, and so should you, this video of Leslie Odom Jr, aka Aaron Burr, and his gorgeous version of O Holy Night.

Advent song for December 4: O Holy Night

Welcome to the first artist who is here for her mad skillz rather than for a specific song: you can’t have a list of the best women singer-songwriters without Tracy Chapman on it, duh. And this version of O Holy Night is a perfect showcase for her beautiful voice. Are you calm? If you’re calm, this will suit your mood perfectly. If you’re not calm, listen to this and you will be.

Advent Carol for December 13: O Holy Night

Another nineteenth-century carol today, this time from France, although I’ve heard so many easy-listening renderings of it that if you’d asked me a week ago I would probably have guessed it was a mid-twentieth century American number. This recording is taken from the same performance, on Christmas Eve 2009, as yesterday’s version of We Three Kings, for which I make no apology because it is, once again, perfection. If you heard an actual choir of real angels, it would sound like this.

(Well, OK, actually there is a very slight wobble on the top note towards the end, but since the singers are humans and not angels, and since the sopranos are mostly very little boys, I forgive them completely.)