Advent activity #4

Look, I do apologise, but Edie is a hard taskmaster and if, like me, you are getting your Christmas tree tomorrow then it really will help if you MAKE SPACE FOR CHRISTMAS TREE today, rather than waiting until there’s a great big Christmas tree in the way of everything. She may be six, but she’s smart.

My parents aren’t putting up a tree this year, because they aren’t having any visitors, so as a special one-off treat I am allowed to put their fairy, handmade by me in 1978, on top of my tree. More on that anon. For today I will follow the instructions and move the furniture in our front room kitchen sitting room dining room (they are all the same room) house around until I have made a space that will no doubt turn out tomorrow to be just a weeny bit too small.

Talk of Christmas trees means I can share with you one of my most thrilling recent Christmas music finds: Nat King Cole singing O Tannenbaum IN GERMAN. I don’t speak German, so I can’t tell how good his accent is, but his voice is so beautiful that it doesn’t matter.

Advent song(s) for December 23: An Austrian-German double bill

I have aways had a few more songs floating around my list than there was strictly going to be time for, and since tomorrow’s song is all tied up and has been since before we started, today is the last chance to sneak in a spare. Also, I feel like today is the last day before Christmas when you might have time to stop and listen to three different songs (I have included two versions of one of them). Tomorrow is a short sharp burst of Christmas goodness, but today let’s wallow in it.

From Austria, here is the lovely Stille Nacht, composed by Father Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber in the early part of the nineteeth century, first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 in Oberndorf bei Salzburg and just about the most famous Christmas song in the world (or maybe the second most famous, but more on that another time). There is almost nobody you can think of who hasn’t recorded a version at some point, but for authenticity’s sake here is the Vienna Boys’ Choir, sounding as good as you’d expect them to:

Today’s second song is O Tannenbaum, which started out as a Silesian folk song, was turned into a tragic love song by Joachim August de Zarnack in 1819 and then, by the addition in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz of two more verses, into a Christmas song, and don’t say I never spoil you because today you are getting two versions: a gorgeous German one sung by the Tölzer Knabenchor, and the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s arrangement for A Charlie Brown Christmas, because that’s the one that really makes me feel Christmassy.

(If you object to the Hollywoodification of a traditional and originally non-Christmassy song, incidentally, you might want to exercise caution when visiting tomorrow, and if you think you can guess the final song from that clue let me know and if you’re right I’ll send you a prize.)