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#1 Contrabombarde

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 07:30 PM

...any shop playing a traditional Christmas carol.

 

For my sins I've spent several hours over recent days in central Birmingham doing my Christmas shopping and we thought it would be fun to play "I spy (/hear)" and win a point for every Christmas carol we heard being played, whether live or recorded as we mooched around the stores. I didn't consider songs about giving my heart last Christmas or Santa Claus coming to town to be Christmas carols though I only heard each of these once, and am astonished to report that our running carol total to date is therefore - zero.

 

It struck me a few years ago how musically illiterate our children are growing up to be, when I set up a miniature orchestra for our church's talented young string, brass and woodwind players to accompany the Nine Lessons and Carols service. They complained could I give them something easier to play as they didn't know "songs" like O little town of Bethlehem. On reflection, I shouldn't be surprised - if our carol heritage is no longer heard anywhere at Christmas, except perhaps in church on Christmas morning, why should we expect future generations to recognise them? And is it only Birmingham where Christmas is a totally carol free zone, or is this complete absence of festive music noted elsewhere too?



#2 handsoff

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 01:47 PM

Stratford-upon-Avon 2 : Birmingham 0

 

This lunchtime; a very competent Salvation Army band and a less than competent busker with a cap for any coins, a santa hat on his head and some dubious-looking tinsel around his neck mumbling "O Come all ye Faithful" (I think) outside Poundland.


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#3 Andrew Butler

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 07:05 AM

...any shop playing a traditional Christmas carol.

 

For my sins I've spent several hours over recent days in central Birmingham doing my Christmas shopping and we thought it would be fun to play "I spy (/hear)" and win a point for every Christmas carol we heard being played, whether live or recorded as we mooched around the stores. I didn't consider songs about giving my heart last Christmas or Santa Claus coming to town to be Christmas carols though I only heard each of these once, and am astonished to report that our running carol total to date is therefore - zero.

 

It struck me a few years ago how musically illiterate our children are growing up to be, when I set up a miniature orchestra for our church's talented young string, brass and woodwind players to accompany the Nine Lessons and Carols service. They complained could I give them something easier to play as they didn't know "songs" like O little town of Bethlehem. On reflection, I shouldn't be surprised - if our carol heritage is no longer heard anywhere at Christmas, except perhaps in church on Christmas morning, why should we expect future generations to recognise them? And is it only Birmingham where Christmas is a totally carol free zone, or is this complete absence of festive music noted elsewhere too?

If they are that "talented" surely they could use their music reading ability to learn the "songs"?



#4 Andrew Butler

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 10:43 AM

There was a ukelele band playing and singing "Silent Night" outside my local Waitrose on Saturday morning.



#5 SL

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 02:20 PM

 

For my sins I've spent several hours over recent days in central Birmingham doing my Christmas shopping

 

It struck me a few years ago how musically illiterate our children are growing up to be, when I set up a miniature orchestra for our church's talented young string, brass and woodwind players to accompany the Nine Lessons and Carols service. They complained could I give them something easier to play as they didn't know "songs" like O little town of Bethlehem. On reflection, I shouldn't be surprised - if our carol heritage is no longer heard anywhere at Christmas, except perhaps in church on Christmas morning, why should we expect future generations to recognise them? And is it only Birmingham where Christmas is a totally carol free zone, or is this complete absence of festive music noted elsewhere too?

 

My sympathy on spending hours shopping in Birmingham. I, likewise, was there last week and, despite having lived a good many years outside our second city, found the centre of it rather frightening but, hey, I live in a tiny little village in the South of the Charente!!

 

On the second point, I'm not sure that our children are growing up musically illiterate. In fact I would go so far as to say that I think youngsters today are, possibly, more musically literate than they have ever been! I also don't think that knowing or not knowing 'O little town of Bethlehem' is necessarily a sign of musical literacy or lack of it and, like Andrew Butler, I am surprised that your most talented young string, brass and woodwind players were not able to negotiate the parts you had written for them.

 

I am also of the opinion, and I suspect this may be extremely contentious, that the Church is preparing for the coming of the Christ-child - and that we have ample time for singing Christmas carols after celebrating the birth of Christ i.e. between December 25th and the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord - when Christmas finishes and 'Ordinary time' begins!


SL (late of Kings College, Cambridge)


#6 Vox Humana

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:00 PM

There was a ukelele band playing and singing "Silent Night" outside my local Waitrose on Saturday morning.

 

A consummation devoutly to be wished, I should think.



#7 John Robinson

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 10:17 PM

Not exactly in a shop, I suppose, but tomorrow evening I expect to enjoy hearing several Christmas carols, as we are going to hear King's College Choir in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.  I believe the acoustics are very good although probably not quite up to those of King's College Chapel.

 

Still, as I understand it, getting in to hear the Nine Lessons and Carols can be a bit hit and miss: only the lucky few at the front of the queue actually get in.



#8 Choir_Man

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 09:23 AM

My evening tomorrow: School carol concert at 5pm, followed at 7pm by carol singing round the village by the church choir, followed at 9pm by further carol singing in the pub by the local ecumenical group.

 

I agree with Contrebombarde's point, that outside of church (and possibly school, depending on your type of school) you rarely hear a traditional carol nowadays about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. But rather one hears the modern pop themes of sentimentality, snow, sleighbells etc. Unfortunately the Sally Army haven't visited my neck of the woods this year, hearing them playing Christmas Carols is always something that stirs my heart.

 

I also agree with SL that musical literacy and musical repertoire are two different things. Just because someone hasn't played O Little Town Of Bethlehem before doesn't make them musically illiterate. In the same way I have never read Pride And Prejudice but that doesn't make me illiterate.



#9 Contrabombarde

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 07:43 PM

In fairness, our church' s young folks had no difficulty reading the music to the Christmas carols, the problem was that I assumed they could just turn up and be familiar with them and hadn't appreciated that as some of them hadn't heard how the carols went before, they weren't confident enough to pick them up straight away.

 

As an aside, I had to take a load of rubbish to the municipal tip yesterday (Lilford Lane in Cotteridge). Quite apart from a rather impressive festive display of anything remotely Christmassy, including lights, Santas (OK, not in the Bible), snowmen (was the midwinter in Bethlehem that bleak?) and the staff wearing red robes and long beards, someone had rigged up some speakers and non-stop traditional arrnagements of Christmas carols were blaring over the waste tip. It was a most impressive sight for sore eyes and ears!






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