{ 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.


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”).


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)


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.


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


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).


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.


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!

Song Stories: The End of Prohibition

On December 5, 1933, the era of Prohibition officially ended in the United States. Learn more about the music that framed the national narrative surrounding the passage of the 18th and 21st Amendments.

New BARD Additions–September 2019

This blog post takes a look at what audio and braille materials have been added by the NLS Music Section to BARD (Braille Audio Reading Download) in September.

Happy Fourth!

On this Independence Day, I thought it would be nice to review some of the patriotic tunes we have in the NLS Music collection. In previous posts I’ve discussed the music of George M. Cohan and John Philip Sousa. We also have some posts about the Ohio State School for the Blind’s marching band by […]

New BARD Additions–March & April 2019

Read about the braille music scores and books that we’ve added to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) during the past two months!

From Anderson to Zaninelli: Audio Lessons for Classical Singing

Learn to sing classical art songs and arias with audio lessons available from the NLS Music Section!

New BARD Additions – January 2019

This post is an overview of the braille music books added to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) over the past month.

Hoffman’s Tales

This blog post highlights some of the pieces in the NLS Music collection inspired by the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann, who was born on this day in 1776.

New BARD Additions – December 2018

This blog gives an overview of the digitized material added to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) in December 2018.

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: H (Part 2 – Hibbler, Albert George “Al”)

A brief glimpse at the life of Al Hibbler and some materials relating to him in the NLS Music Collection.