#488: The Songs of “Christmas Quick”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #488, on the subject of The Songs of “Christmas Quick”.

I suppose I have officially run out of recordings of my own compositions; hopefully I will find a way to record a few more songs for the new year.  However, as I realized I had reached December, I remembered that maybe a decade or so ago I arranged ten Christmas songs as midi recordings–technically nine songs, because I liked the first arrangement so much I redid it in a different instrumentation as the last.  It came to within a few seconds of twenty minutes worth of music, and I gave a CD to our pastor, Don Chroniger.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to string them together for you here, so you’ll have to listen to each one individually.

The entire project was inspired when I realized that with the change of just one note, the setting of Away in a Manger that I had learned as a boy could become a three-part round.  Using the midi program I then had, I selected midi human voices (“doo”) and sketched the three parts.  I called it Around a Manger, and it’s under two minutes long.

I remember being introduced to Carol of the Bells in high school chorus, and we sang it every year, and I generally appreciated its arrangement.  At some point years ago I arranged it for two guitars, and my wife managed to play it with me a few times, so I wrote out those two parts and added a bass guitar to flesh it out.  I was very surprised that it came in under one and a half minutes.

Also in high school chorus I encountered Shepherd’s Carol, and although I’ve heard quite a few versions of it since then, this one tracks closely to the arrangement we sang.  I decided it would sound good with recorders; it is under two minutes

Slower and longer than most here, O Come, O Come Emanuel is over two and a half minutes.  It is another guitars and bass arrangement.

I’ve always loved the haunting sound of Michael Praetorius’ Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming, and although I’ve always done it in four parts, I thought that three parts on recorders would work well.  It did.  I did two verses partly to extend it to just under two minutes, but partly because I wanted to drop the melody an octave and push the bass below for the second verse.  I again used the midi vocals.

I had actually been working on playing Silent Night on a guitar, and had composed both guitar parts.  I knew the song had been originally written for guitar accompaniment, so it seemed approprate.  I had fun creating the bass part, and the three verses run about two and a half minutes.

I don’t know when I first heard O Little Town of Bethlehem, but I love all three verses, and thus I broke one of my rules.  For all the others except Around a Manger I made every verse different; for this one, in order to get a good sound on so complex a song I needed all three guitars all the way through–and I wanted three verses so that when I listened to it I could mentally or vocally go through all the lyrics.  It is thus over two minutes long.

Sometime probably in the late 70s or early 80s my wife and I had a pair of recorders, so I did an arrangement of Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken for us to play together.  That is preserved in the first verse, and in those lines throughout.  Humorously, we played it for our gamer friend Bob Schretzman, who was flattered that we’d learned to play Deutschland Uber Alles for him.  Still, I took the original arrangement, added a tenor recorder to the second verse and a bass recorder to the third, and got a decent arrangement running about two minutes.

I had taught myself to play the guitar part that covers the melody, including the two-part chorus, of Angels We Have Heard On High, so I coded it into the midi program, and then worked on adding a second guitar and a bass guitar.  I was rather pleased with it; it runs just over two minutes.

I was sort of running out of ideas for Christmas songs I could arrange quickly, and I realized that I really liked the opening song but the three parts tended to blend into each other.  So I decided to do a second version of the song, using two guitars and a bass, each in its own octave, and so we have Around a Manger, reprised in a guitar version to close the set.

I offer no lyrics for this set; the songs are all out there somewhere, and the length of the lyrics for nine songs would be daunting.  I hope you know enough of them to enjoy the collection.  Perhaps these will give some of you ideas for your own arrangements.  Or you can burn these to a CD or save them on a thumb drive and play them for pre-service music at an upcoming nativity celebration.


Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone” | #455:  The Song “King of Glory” | #457:  The Song “Greater Love” | #458:  The Song “All I Need” | #462:  The Song “John Three” | #464:  The Song “The Secret” | #466:  The Song “In a Mirror Dimly” | #468:  The Song “Present Your Bodies” | #471:  The Song “Walkin'” | #473:  The Song “In the Light of His Love” | #477:  The Song “Step by Step” | #479:  The Song “They That Trust” | #481:  The Song “To the Philadelphians” | #483:  The Song “Give Me a Vision” | #485:  The Song “Where Did I Go Wrong?”

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