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Season’s Songs – Caring Where Carols Come From

Familiar tunes like Christmas carols affect us consciously and subconsciously. Music impacts our brains, emotions, bodies, and — some would say — souls. You can easily find examples of moods and spirits (however you interpret that word) being changed by a song.

Caroling, Caroling, Here We Go

Though I often consider making Christmas or other holiday recordings, it gets tricky because every piece of music has to be researched to see if someone still has a copyright on it. If it is, I’ll need to obtain licenses and pay royalties. An amazing number of holiday favorite carols are still copyrighted.

Other hymns and seasonal songs are public domain. It’s crucial to credit authors, composers, and songwriters, but these do not require licenses or fees.

Whatever the legal issues, I’m always curious about how songs are created. Was it one songwriter or a lyricists and a musical composer? What inspired the song? (Hint: if you click on the link for each of the songs on this album, you’ll find at least a link or short explanation about the carol and it’s story.)

Wondering Wanderer

“I Wonder As I Wander” is a mesmerizing carol. Besides a haunting (and, for many, difficult especially due to the lack of standard meter) melody, the lyrics seem mystical.

The hymnist, John Jacob Niles, studied folkloric music. He also wanted to create a living wage from music. The result is that he blurred the lines between his studies and his compositions.

Whatever its history, “I Wonder As I Wander” is a powerful carol. Even if you have not sung it, I hope you’ll check out this inspiring version.

Bleak and Mild

Gustav Holst was a prolific composer. “In The Bleak Mid-Winter” is one of his most familiar tunes. I know that I find this tune to be a deeply inspiring one.

I’ve done (literally) dozens of versions of this Christmas carol. If you buy/download this album, you’ll hear the instrumental version I’ve created and one song (vocal and guitar) version as a bonus.

Do You Hear?

So many songs are the result of the times in which they are created. That is certainly true of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. Noel Regney wrote this song and Gloria Shayne Baker wrote the lyrics in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Do you know how the holiday carols affect you? What carol or song is the most inspiring to you during the late winter, Winter Solstice, or Christmastime?