Choose your favourite Carol

We are coming up to the time of year when we have our Carol Service, Nativity etc. I love this time of year and singing the great carols. I am in the midst of sorting out the Carols that we will be singing over Christmas and I wondered if you have any favourites that you would like me to put into one of the Christmas services? Also give me your reason why you like it. Deadline is this Sunday (5th December)!

My opener for 10 is the Angel Gabriel. It reminds me of Midnight Communion in my village church when I was a teenager. The late night, the packed church and singing the great carols. So, it is the carol that HAS to go into a service somewhere.

Traditional version from King’s College:

Great version from Sting of all people:


12 comments on “Choose your favourite Carol

  1. sandy
    December 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    I like the Calypso Carol. It reminds me of my childhood and finding a carol that was so upbeat and different. I really feel I am celebrating when I sing this, though it ahs to be sung at the right speed!

  2. Jean Grima
    December 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    The Coventry Carol is one of my very favourites and seldom heard in churches. Maybe it takes too much musical know how for your average carol singer (and I include myself in that description)

    It changes tempo, it has dramatic highlights and whisks me back to happy school days when we sang it every year – along with a selection of Benjamin Britten’s ceremony of carols.

    Not mainstream – but sublime.

    from the 15th Century

    Lully, Lulla, thou little tiny child,
    Byby, lully lullay.

    O sisters too,
    How may we do
    For to preserve this day
    This poor youngling,
    For whom we do sing,
    Byby, lully lullay?
    2. Herod, the king
    In his raging,
    Charged he hath this day
    His men of might,
    In his own sight,
    All young children to slay.

    3. That woe is me,
    Poor child for thee!
    And ever mourn and day,
    For thy parting
    Neither say nor sing
    Byby, lully lullay!

    Lully, Lulla, thou little tiny child,
    Byby, lully lullay.

  3. lotwina
    December 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Joy to the world, ………let heaven nature sing …

    that’s my favourite carol

  4. carolyn
    December 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    With you so much on Angel G … but also In the Bleak Midwinter … went to a wonderful christmas wedding held in a turret of a scottish castle and this was played on gaelic instruments … happy to say they are still blissfully happy with four boys… love to sing the Holly and the Ivy too

  5. Ann
    December 2, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    My favourite is O come, O come Emmanuel

    I like the prophetic theme of the lyrics and the reminder that Jesus is God with us. When we sing it together at Christmas services it fills me with joy – and hope.

  6. Sue Cooke
    December 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    I’m with Ann, O Come O Come Emmanuel or my other favourite is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Afraid I do not share your joy for the one you say is a must though!

  7. Harvey Edser
    December 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Hang on a mo Sue – I’m sure I recall you saying something along the lines of ‘what’s that awful dirge?’ when we sang O Come O Come Emmanuel a year or so ago…! Glad you’ve changed your mind tho – I think it’s a great one 🙂

    Really don’t understand the appeal of Angel G (‘Most highly flavoured gravy’), but takes all sorts! 😉

    My best are:

    – The First Nowell – what a cracking chorus
    – In the bleak (esp. Harold Darke arrangement) – ‘ what can I give him: give my heart’ – great stuff!
    – It came upon a midnight clear (despite slightly dodgy unitarian origins – allegedly) – great tune and interesting words
    – Sussex Carol (‘On Christmas night all Christians sing’) – bit out-of-the-ordinary and great tune
    – Calypso Carol – well, it’s fun and the words are good (‘mine are riches from his poverty…’)
    – O Little Town (‘be born in us today’ – yay)
    – Of the Father’s Heart Begotten (but no-one knows it).

    And I know Graham Kendrick is disallowed, but I still really like his ‘Tonight, while all the world was sleeping’ 🙂

  8. Rosie Edser
    December 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Midnight for me is epitomised by Maddie singing “Thorns in the Straw” (since the day the angel came…) it’s moving stuff, bringing in the myrrh side of Jesus’ birth !

    As for ‘everybody-belt-em-out’ carols, used to love Hark the Herald, O come al ye faithful, O little Town and Once in Royal but had enough of them now!

    Love We three Kings, The first Noel and In the bleak (come on, Snow had fallen snow on snow.. I know it didn’t often snow in first century palestine but you can take it metaphoricaly, the hardness of people’s hearts!)

    It came upon a midnight clear.. “beneath the angels’ strain has rolled ten thousand years of wrong but man at war with man hears not the love song which he brings, oh hush your noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing” – quality stuff!
    There’s a jolly version of Holly and the Ivy you can do as a round and our whole family love Silent Night.

  9. Sue Cooke
    December 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    Harv – not sure about that it is definitely Angel G I have not really enjoyed – feels funereal (is that a word?) to me. Still, at least I have hope now that when I am vicar I can just not choose it!!!! Then again, could have had a dislike to O Come O Come Emmanuel, but have belted it out four times already since Advent started – had a particularly funky upbeat version in chapel with drums today and it was great!!

  10. Will Cookson
    December 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Sue, depends on the church you go to. If you have a director of music you can have real problems refusing their advice!

  11. peter smedley
    December 5, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    I would go for Thorns in the Straw – great words as well as a great tune and no hint of babies not crying or fake ‘winters’! I also love The candle song which is a modern carol with a traditional feel but again great non embarassing words.

  12. Angela Baker
    December 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    So hard to choose (that’s why I missed the original deadline: SORRY!)
    ‘Thorns in the straw’ (especially if sung by our Phil & Maddie!)
    ‘Hark the herald’ (the only one where I can hit the descant notes!)
    ‘In the bleak midwinter’ (traditional tune)
    ‘It came upon a midnight clear’ (although a few bittersweet memories attached to that one)
    Will that do?
    Looking forward to the Carol Service! God bless,
    Angela x

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