Christmas Art and Music


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A look at some of the less-familiar traditions of Advent and Christmas, as seen through folksong and art. Co-presented with Jenny Callison. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Oxford, OH, December 2009. PDF format of a Kwynote original.

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Christmas Art and Music

  1. 1. Christmas Artand MusicHoly Trinity Adult ForumDecember 13, 2009
  2. 2. ChristmasCarols• Oxford Concise Dictionary: a “religious song . . . associated with Christmas”• Fr. carole -- ring dance with stanzas and ‘ringmaster’• Grew up alongside composed, literary works• Magnificat -- 1st century• Old words often set to new music to new music
  3. 3. The CarolTradition#• Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, 1833• Hymns Ancient and Modern 1861-1874 has several• Truro Cathedral, Cornwall 1880: 9 Lesson and Carols• Oxford Book of Carols, 1928• “Sheffield Carols”
  4. 4. CoventryCarol• Hymnal 247 assigns to Holy Innocents• Often associated with Christmas• Old combination of English words & music• Words & music 1591 John Roberts and• Based on medieval Mystery Tony Barrand Plays -- Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors
  5. 5. Visions of the Annunciation Dante G. Simone Martini Rossetti
  6. 6. BaptismalAnthem• Setting of a Biblical text• Composer is B.F. White, co- author of The Sacred Harp
  7. 7. Visions of theAnnunciation Jan Van Eyck Flemish
  8. 8. TheMidnight Cry• NOT Bach, but ‘Wachet auf ’ tells the same story of the wise and foolish virgins• American version, 18th century
  9. 9. Visions of theAnnunciation Bartholome Esteban Murillo
  10. 10. The Hollyand the Ivy• ‘Least Christianized’ of common carols• References to holly and ivy in 15th century
  11. 11. Madonna andChild Lucas van Leyden
  12. 12. The BitterWithy• Collected in 19th Century, but much older• Apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo- Matthew and others• Myth-making: explanation of natural phenomena
  13. 13. Madonna andChild Luis de Morales
  14. 14. The Joys ofMary• Didactic intent• Many versions of joys in medieval legend
  15. 15. Madonnaand Child Sandro Botticelli
  16. 16. While ShepherdsWatched• Poem text by by Nahum Tate, 1700• Only non-psalm authorized for Christmas use before 1700• Many different settings• Hymnal # 94, 95• English and American settings
  17. 17. Adorationof theMagi Gentile da Fabriano
  18. 18. Green Growthe Rushes, O• Widespread folk song in the English-speaking world• Unusual mixture of Christian and other (pagan?) elements• Several verses obscure• Cumulative song
  19. 19. Adoration ofthe Magi Unknown Flemish Master
  20. 20. The Boar’sHead Carol• Ancient (probably pagan) elements -- sacrifice of boar• Macaronic verse -- combination of English and Latin• Still celebrated at several colleges and churches in England (and elsewhere)
  21. 21. Adoration ofthe Magi Andrea Mantegna
  22. 22. The King(The Cutty Wren)• Wren hunting tradition• Similar to wassailing• December 26th (St. Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day)
  23. 23. Dives andLazarus • Parable in Luke’s Gospel • Not Lazarus of the 4 days • First written record in 1557 • Collected by Francis Child -- Ballads (19th cent.)
  24. 24. Awake, andJoin • Anonymous 4 • West Gallery style, 18th-19th centuries Awake, and join the cheerful choir Upon this joyful morn And glad hosannah loudly sing For joy a Saviour born.