Advent Calendar Day 19: Carol of the Birds (James Wheeler)

After all the sad and contemplative carols of the last few days, I thought we deserved something cheerful.  But what?  I was sort of tempted by Masters in this Hall, an old favourite of mine, but it’s kind of terrible, as even I have to admit (I love it, but it so easily turns into a pub song).  And I thought about For Unto Us a Child Is Born, but we already did Handel, so that’s no good..

So then I thought that we are probably about due for an Australian Carol.  Which is why we’ve ended up with a Catalan one… No.  No we haven’t.  Though there is a Catalan Carol of the Birds too, and it’s fairly gorgeous.  I recommend giving it a listen.

This is one of the most famous Australian Christmas Carols.  It is also one of the most frequently badly-sung carols, because those ‘Oranas’ can be pretty unfortunate in the wrong hands.  Of course, this is in some ways appropriate, because if you get a good screechy squawk going for that bit, you sound *exactly* like a cockatoo, one of the few Australian birds not to get mentioned in this carol.  But this is not a sound that most choir directors aim for.  (I know this, because I can never resist doing just one tiny cockatoo imitation when rehearsing this.  I have very bad manners like that…)

In my Christmas Choir at work, I always try to get us singing at least one Australian carol, because we are a very international workplace, and it’s sort of nice not to be singing endlessly about snow and ice when we don’t tend to get that in Melbourne at Christmas.  Unless Melbourne is in a particularly devilish mood, which has been known to happen, but doesn’t tend to be celebrated by anyone other than me.  But I do wonder why all our carols are so outback-ish when most Australians actually live in cities…


2 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Day 19: Carol of the Birds (James Wheeler)

  1. 5-tails says:

    I was thinking of singing this as a solo at an upcoming concert, but figured that sadly, it would probably make little sense without my providing a glossary (or possibly a bird-book) for the audience…


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