If, like me, you’re British, you may be wondering what sort of Christmas music comes from America. Well, you’d be surprised.
O little town of Bethlehem, it turns out, was written in 1865 by a rector from Philadelphia called Phillip Brooks and the original tune was composed by his organist Lewis Redner, although British carol singers know the tune by the very English composer Vaughan Williams.
It came upon a midnight clear is also American, written in Massachusetts in 1849 by the minister Edmund Sears. I much prefer the American melody, which is a lyrical, flowing tune in six-eight, rather than the four-square tune we sing in Britain.
And then, most surprising of all, it turns out that the staple carol of British children’s school nativity plays, Away in a manger, is also American. The standard American tune, by one James R Murray, is much more graceful than the one we usually sing in Britain, although our “traditional English” tune is also American.
We will also be a attempting a lively version of Children go where I send thee, in true American gospel style. Here’s a version I found on youtube by the women of the Alma choirs for you to enjoy!
So on that note I’d just like to wish you all Happy Holidays!