Saturday, December 04, 2021

Christmas Songs and Carols--Sixteen Singing Men, Curt Davis, Jerry Barnes, Caravan Singers, more! (Singcord ZLP 872S; 1972)


Reading from the last chapter of a book by a former prof, Jack Santino, I came across a fascinating, however obvious, point.  New Old-Fashioned Ways, it's called, and that's meant to be ironic, of course.  Santino is brilliant, though he was out of his element, really, in the classes I attended, given that he's a folklorist.  As a result, I didn't realize how very smart he is, though of course I knew he was anything but dull.  I apologize to the author if I'm getting this wrong, but the fascinating point is that "commercialized" holidays are what we can expect in a capitalist society.  In other words, in the case of Christmas, it's totally appropriate--or at least inevitable--that C. will be "commercialized"--it speaks of/to the cultural importance of the holiday. It also shapes the events in accordance with our culture.  Christmas is the big day, and so it's commercialized to the max.  At least in my country, it's our way of mass-observing the event.

And it's interesting to see that Christmas, as far back as 1996, had become "the holiday."  That's the phrase we hear most often.  Note that Easter, Thanksgiving, and Halloween are never called "the holiday."  "The holiday" is Christmas.

And what does this have to do with today's offering?  Hm.  Let me think about that.

We just encountered a Parade (SPC) label sampler, and now we have a Singcord label sampler, so there's some method to my Xmas madness, at least for the moment.  Being a small (but not a "junk") sacred label, Singcord's sampler is a better-quality affair (as in, much better), with artist credits and everything.  The tracks are marvelous, as we'd expect from this company, and they include two sublime cuts by Sixteen Singing Men, one of my favorite sacred outfits (we'll be hearing an entire LP by them soon).  Other highlights: a very lively We Wish You a Merry Christmas by Dean Brown and the Caravan Singers, and Jimme McDonald with the folky Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow.  The only meh track, to me, is Straw Carol, but you can't win them all.  This sampler LP straddles the fence between art and pop, musically, which is exactly as Christmas--I mean, holiday--music should be, in my view.  Formal but not formal. The theme of keeping things in their place, of celebrating in a temperate way, is one hundred percent a part of holiday culture, but, being a symbolic sentiment, there's no literal meaning we can hang on that idea.  That is, what does it literally mean to make merry, but not too merry?  Also, the meaning of "merry" has changed over the centuries, though I forget exactly how.  Some Xmas historian I am...

To avoid the eyestrain of fixing the code, I'm going to let the track listing double space.  It's the Blogger default.  Didn't used to be that way...

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Songs and Carols (Singcord ZLP 872S; 1972)

In a Cave--Sixteen Singing Men

Hark the Herald Angels Sing--Curt Davis, Organist

Mary's Boy Child--Bob Parks and the Evangelaires Quartet

O Little Town of Bethlehem--Jerry Barnes with the Ralph Carmichael Quartet

We Wish You a Merry Christmas--Dean Brown and the Caravan Singers

O Holy Night--Sixteen Singing Men

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear--Herman Voss, Organist

Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow--Jimme McDonald, Soloist

Straw Carol--Dean Brown and the Caravan Singers

Silent Night--Jerry Barnes with the Ralph Carmichael Orchestra

Christmas Songs and Carols (Singcord ZLP 872S; 1972)



Bryan said...

Hey Lee,
This is a very interesting album.
The two stand-out groups for me were Dean Brown and the Caravan Singers and the Sixteen Singing Men.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Same here. Glad you enjoyed!

Rich said...

Thank you, Lee.


Graham said...

Is this label any relation to Zondervan?

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Yes it was a subsidiary of Z.