Merry Christmas! Usually this is the point at which I go for all the big descants, but you have the entire internet for that.
Instead, I am going to be completely self-indulgent (and hopefully you-indulgent, too), because I was looking for a beautiful Christmas song by the King’s singers to end with and instead I found… an entire King’s Singers Christmas concert. Merry Christmas indeed!
I wish you a day with the people you love, a day of delicious food and enjoyable conversation and a baby to hug, if that’s your sort of thing (or a cat to hug, if that is your preference), with no drama, no disasters, no politics and someone else doing the washing up. And a nice book to read at the end of the day.
A bonus carol for your Christmas Vigil! I love the lyrics to this piece of music – they are perfect for Christmas night, translating “O great mystery and wonderful sacrament, that the animals see the Lord born, lying in a manger. Blessed virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Lord Christ. Alleluia!”
The hard part is choosing a setting, because everyone has done one. There’s this gorgeous one by Victoria, or you could try Byrd, straight or with jazz piano, or you could have some spooky Poulenc, or then there’s this one, by contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen.
I love the reflectiveness of this setting and its stillness, and the way the alleluias come out of the darkness at the end. For all its modernity, it would be a beautiful thing to hear in an old Roman or Gothic church, with only a brazier for light, as we await the coming of midnight and the lighting of candles to celebrate the holy birth.