On Monday, I was ready to talk about “Away in a Manger.” Even though it is still one of my least favorite carols, I have a new-found respect for its origin and the different versions that have been recorded. According to the origins of Christmas carols, this carol was written around 1883 to celebrate the anniversary of Martin Luther’s 400th birthday. Historians believe that the song was incorporated into celebratory pageants, perhaps with a figure representing Martin Luther singing this lullaby to his children. Since Martin Luther’s birthday is November 10, it is not surprising that the tune became associated with Christmas carols.
I (and Roger because he was sitting next to me) listened to a dozen or so versions of the song. I found that the traditional American tune is much less appealing than the “Sweet Afton” tune written in 1837 by Jonathan Spilman (also called “Cradle Song”). I loved the Susan Boyle rendition that Jeremy listed in his post. I thought she was just a television phenom with 15 minutes of fame. I was surprised to learn that her 2009 album, The Gift, went platinum in many countries and sold 3,000,000 copies in the United States. I also liked the version by the Celtic Woman and another by Haley Westerna.
There’s a recording that I haven’t been able to find from 1996 that combines St. Paul’s Anglican Choir singing one version with St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic choir singing the alternate tune. The idea of the two tunes as a duet sounds lovely.
Roger nominated his favorite version, the King’s College Choir of Cambridge. I agree that hearing the angelic voices are beautiful.
Lesson learned: maybe it’s not the song that I dislike after all. I just needed to find the most appealing version!
This week we start our new song of the week addition to our Yule Log offering. For week one we have Away in a Manger. There are TONS of different versions of this song, and there are definitely more than one tune that it can be sung to (more on that another day). The song tells the story of the baby Jesus and his nights in the stable so long ago, a prayer really . Listed below are some links to a variety of versions I dug up to share with our readers. Please let us know what you think about these. We will be narrowing in on which version we recommend from the YL 365, and more importantly the versions that need to be removed from the annual playlist. Listen to them all…
Podcast #28- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- What’s the theme?
This week Natalie and I recap our posted discussions from the week. We look a little more in-depth at our detailed bucket lists. Natalie still laughs at my home-made nativity idea- ouch! We talk about our song of the week and share a little insight for this week’s song selection. Finally we discuss options for our entry in the 2012 Festival of Trees. Listen to our suggestions and help us decide.
Natalie and I have continually come back to Christmas music as a talking point for us and the Yule Log. We are now more than half-way through the year and have not spent nearly as much time and energy on Christmas music as I thought we would. Time to change that! Christmas is only 24 weeks away. Each week I will have a focus song of the week. We will be open to look at its origins and history, debate good and bad recorded versions, and make some decisions about its future use. We might include sound and video clips for your feedback, ask for suggestions and ideas about the songs from you, and maybe even have Natalie sing a verse or two:)
This week’s Christmas Song of the Week is: Away in a Manger. The song is an American carol from the mid-nineteenth century. There are certainly hundreds of versions of this to consider and lots of variety in the song. More this week!!