Click the links below to hear the pieces in the book.
El Cant dels Ocells (Carol of the Birds) – Traditional for Christmas. This traditional Catalonian song dates back to as early as 1600. The original version has 34 verses which describe 32 different colourful birds and their visit to the Christ Child at the manger in Bethlehem.
Go, Tell It on the Mountain – Traditional for Christmas and suitable for Kwanzaa. This carol is generally considered to be an African-American Spiritual which would have been passed down through generations by the oral tradition. Recent research suggests, however, that it may have been composed by African-American composer, teacher and scholar Frederick Jerome Work (1880-1942) and was adapted and included in a song book in 1907 by his nephew, John Wesley Work (1901-1967).
Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages) – Traditional for Chanukah. This traditional Jewish song is often sung following the Chanukah blessing and the lighting of the menorah, which holds the Chanukah lights. This particular tune was adapted from a German folk song. The original Hebrew words were written 800-900 years ago in Europe.
Noël Nouvelet (Christmas Comes Anew) – Traditional for Christmas, New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice/Yule The melody of this traditional French New Year’s Day carol may date back as far as the 17th century. There are versions of the text dating back to the early 1500s. In this case, the word “Nouvelet” conveys news or newness. Nos Galan (New Year’s Eve) (commonly known as “Deck the Halls”) – Traditional for Christmas, New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice/Yule. This is a traditional Welsh New Year’s Eve carol. One of many Welsh New Year traditions is to open the back door at the first stroke of midnight to release the Old Year. The back door is then kept locked to “keep the luck in” and the front is opened at the last stroke of midnight to let the New Year in.
Sevivon, Sov, Sov, Sov! (Dreidel, Spin, Spin, Spin!) – Traditional for Chanukah. This traditional Jewish song refers to the custom of children playing dreidel games during Chanukah. A dreidel is a top which spins. It has four sides, each with a different Hebrew letter on it. When the letters are put together, they form the abbreviation for a phrase which, when translated, means, “A great miracle happened here.” The song traditionally gets faster and faster as it is sung, representing the spinning of the dreidel.
Siyahamba (We are Marching in the Light of God) – Suitable for Kwanzaa. This is an anonymous South African freedom song, traditionally sung in Zulu. Between the 1800s and the 1990s, South African tribes were divided and suffered from racial discrimination. This song would probably have arisen out of that state of Apartheid.
Still, Still, Still (Quietly, Quietly, Quietly) – Traditional for Christmas. This is a traditional Austrian carol which was also frequently used as a lullaby. Although the composer is unknown, the melody is thought to have originated in Salzburg in 1819.
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day – Traditional for Christmas. This traditional English carol was first published in William Sandys’ Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern in 1833, although the carol most likely dates back to medieval times. In this case, the word “dancing” is a metaphor for living.