Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Favorite Carols

Christmas in Poland is a big family thing. The main celebrations start on Christmas Eve, with the festive supper and gathering. Traditionally, on the Christmas Eve table you can find 12 dishes, which symbolize 12 months of the new coming year, and 12 disciples as well. Before the meal begins people share holy wafer "opłatek", wishing each other all the best. It is also the time to forgive and to be reconciled with the ones whom we have had argued with.

After the meal, presents from Santa are opened. Later, some families sing Christmas carols together. The carols are religious songs, not pop tunes of course. We used to sing them after the Christmas Eve supper in my home when I was little. We often played a vinyl album by Mazowsze as well. You can see the folk song and dance group in the videos below.

When I listen to the Polish carols, they bring to my mind all the Christmas scents and flavors of my childhood: poppy seed log - so delicious (and time-consuming considering how long it took to make the logs), noodles with poppy seeds, raisins, almonds, and honey, mushroom soup, and many more......

Here are my favorite Polish carols + a Polish version of Stille Nacht/ Silent Night.

 Lulajże, Jezuniu / Sleep, Little Jesus (lullaby) - composed/written in the 17th century

Wśród nocnej ciszy / In the Silence of the Night (18th/19th century)

 Dzisiaj w Betlejem / Today in Bethlehem - author unknown

Gdy śliczna Panna  / When the Lovely Virgin Mary (music and lyrics written at the beginning of the 18th century).

Przybieżeli do Betlejem / Shepherd Have Come to Bethlehem (early 17th century)

Cicha noc / Silent Night - I like this Austrian carol, also in Polish - no matter in what language it is sung. Lyrics by Joseph Mohr, music composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber.

English Carols

During all those years when I worked as a teacher of English as a second language, every Christmas, besides various Christmas vocabulary, I also taught my students several Christmas songs/ carols. Most often they were also listening comprehension exercises - before we sang them, first, students listened to the lyrics and found what the missing words (on their exercise sheets) were. The ones which we listened to and sang in the classroom were:
  • Jingle Bells - of course,
  • Away in a Manger,
  • Deck the Halls,
  • White Christmas,
  • Happy Xmas by John Lennon,
  • The First Noel,
  • Feliz Navidad,
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas,
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town,
  • Mary's Boy Child,
  • Little Drummer Boy,
  • Auld Lang Syne.
The kids enjoyed them and I like them too. However, I listened to my favorite English carols at home mostly. These days I also love singing them at church.

O Come, All Ye Faithful - music and lyrics by Frederick Oakeley, 1841.

Joy to the World - first published in 1719

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - first published in 1739, music by F. Mendelssohn

Silent Night - English version

Besides them, I also like

O Tannenbaum - O Christmas Tree which is a German carol. Its modern lyrics, based on the 16th century Silesian folk song, were written in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz.

Merry Christmas!