{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

Hidden Holiday Gems from Around the World

As musicians and music-lovers know, this time of year is defined by lots and lots of holiday music! Whether you play, sing, or listen, I bet you’ve heard “Jingle Bells” more times than you care to remember by this point. So, in an attempt to expand our choices, here are some lesser-known holiday works, with a distinct international flair. All the braille selections are for choir and piano unless noted otherwise.

Let’s start right at home.

America

Cowboy Carol by Cecil Broadhurst (BRM05836)
Although Canadian, Cecil Broadhurst was well-known for his cowboy songs, and this piece for choir has all the hallmarks of a classic American cowboy tune.

In the Spirit of Christmas (DBM00994)
This talking book profiles the life and compositions of American composer Alfred Burt, who wrote 15 Christmas carols between 1942 and 1954 (his most famous composition is “Some Children See Him”).

Belgium

Four Old Flemish Christmas Carols by Flor Peeters (BRM22880)
Flemish composer and organist Flor Peeters arranged four traditional Flemish carols for choir and winds: “Hark! Unto Us a Child is Born” (Een kindekijn in ons gheboren), “There Fell a Heavenly Dew” (Het viel eens hemels douwe), “Now Be Very Welcome” (Nu sijt willecome), “Shepherds He is Born” (Herders hij is gheboren)

Caribbean

Merry Christmas—Parang style (DBM01211)
This talking book discusses Parang music, a style of traditional Trinidadian folk music commonly performed around Christmastime.

Caribbean Carol by Arthur Frackenpohl (BRM23088)
This traditional Dominican Republic carol has been arranged by Arthur Frackenpohl for SATB choir with optional guitar, bass, marimba, maracas and claves.

Finland

Christmas Carol from Lapland by Clarence Dickinson (BRM03576)
Lapland, an area in the very north of Finland, is known for its wintry climate and abundance of spruce trees. This traditional carol is arranged for SATB and piano.

White House Christmas Tree, Washington, D.C. December 24. Many Visitors viewed this huge Christmas tree set up ion the East Room of the White House for Yuletide.

White House Christmas Tree, Washington, D.C. December 24. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. December 25, 1937. hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.47362

Poland

Five Fantasies on Polish Christmas Carols by Arnold Bax (BRM02799)
Sir Arnold Bax arranged five different carols for unison choir and strings at the request of the translator, Jan Sliwinski, for the benefit of the Polish Children and the Polish Red Cross (string part arranged for piano).

Russia

The Russian Orthodox Cathedral Choir of Paris: Russian Hymns and Carols (DBM03700)
This talking book from Smithsonian Folkways contains both popular Russian Orthodox Church hymns, along with folkloric carols sung outside of Church during Christmastime.

Various

Four Christmas Carols by Alfred Whitehead (BRM04690)
Arranged by Alfred Whitehead, this collection contains Swedish (“All ye in this house”, “Come, Follow Me”), Burgundian (“The Hillside Carol”), and Danish (“Sweet Baby, Sleep”) carols.

 Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights (DBM00992)
This talking book gives the background of the customs and ceremony of Hanukkah, complimented by traditional Hebrew melodies.

The Story of the Bells (DBM01555)
Narrated by Karl Haas, this talking book takes the listener through soundscapes during the Christmas season in Switzerland, Vienna, and more.

 S’vivon (BRM36682)
This piece is a traditional Hanukkah song depicting a spinning dreydl (soprano part only).

If you would like to request any of these books from the Music Section, please get in contact with us via email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-424-8567, ext. 2. Happy holidays!

Getting Over the Hump with Midweek Music

At NLS, we have an unoccupied cubicle with an electric piano and a small couch in the corridor leading to the music section. Shortly after the completion of the building renovations early this year, a sign saying “Piano Lounge” appeared on the outside wall of this cubicle. Now and then, people would stop in to […]

Music City 101: NLS Heads to Nashville!

Last month country music legend Dolly Parton joined Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden in a presentation to celebrate the achievements of Parton’s book-gifting organization (video of the event available here). They announced that the Library of Congress Young Readers Center is partnering with Parton’s charity to provide a special series of story time events. […]

Start a New Family Tradition

Recently, I read Willie Nelson’s autobiography “It’s a Long Story.” Willie and his sister Bobbie were raised by their paternal grandparents who were avid amateur musicians. From when they were very young, the Nelson children spent much of their time making music together and singing gospel songs at their church. Willie still cherishes those times […]