Musical Musings: December 17-24, 2020

Hello members and friends of UUCC, 

I hope you are all staying safe and well during this December like no other. My weekly Music Notes are below, and I also want to invite you to join me in the UUCC parking lot for some holiday caroling (masked and carefully distanced, of course) on Christmas Eve. There is another article in this eblast about Christmas Eve, but here are the essentials of the caroling event: I’ll be leading a Christmas Eve Carol Singalong next Thursday the 24th at 6 p.m. in the UUCC parking lot (weather permitting). To minimize risk, this event will be outdoors, masked and socially distant and only about 20-30 minutes long. This is an optional event, of course, and although I’d like to see you there, please don’t do anything that makes you feel unsafe. The event will be videorecorded, and that video will be shared on the church’s Facebook and YouTube pages, so everyone will have a chance to sing along, whether attending in person or not.

Also, please join us online this Sunday, December 20th for our virtual service titled “Bring Back Saturnalia!”, a multigenerational celebration of ancient winter traditions led by Dr. Allan Georgia. We’ll have some great music within that service as well – see below for this week’s Music Notes:

Music Notes for December 20th, 2020

Music 1: Chant for the Seasons (Winter) – Czech folk song/Belletini

73 in Singing the Living Tradition, “Chant for the Seasons” is a setting of a traditional Czech folk song. There are four verses of lyrics written by Rev. Mark Belletini (b. 1949), each depicting the transition from one season to the next. Rev. Belletini served for many years as senior minister at the First Unitarian Church of Columbus, Ohio and also was the chair of the Hymnbook Resources Commission, which produced our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal in 1993. This Sunday, the winter verse of “Chant for the Seasons” will be led by UUCC’s Chancel Choir.

Music 2/Offertory: Starlight – Japanese folk song, adapted by Donnelly & Strid

“Starlight” is a 2018 composition by the songwriting team of Mary Donnelly and George Strid, who have collaborated on over 150 published works, mainly for children’s and youth choirs. “Starlight” incorporates a Japanese folk song known as “Tanabata” and the lyrics of the children’s song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. The Japanese folk melody is commonly heard during an annual star festival (also called Tanabata). UUCC’s YoUUth Choir, accompanied by Aaron and Alicia Burkle, will lead “Starlight” in this week’s service.

Music 3: In the Bleak Midwinter – Holst/Rossetti

“In the Bleak Midwinter” (#241 in Singing the Living Tradition) is a lesser-known Christmas carol with words by the English poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), set to a gentle melody written by English composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934). Cellist John Gibbon will play this carol for us in Sunday’s service, accompanied by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney on piano.

Postlude: Deck the Hall – Welsh carol, arranged by Parker and Shaw

Although commonly thought of as a Christmas carol, “Deck the Hall” (#235 in Singing the Living Tradition) makes no mention of Christmas in its lyrics and actually comes from a centuries-old Welsh New Year’s song called “Nos Galan”. Some scholars also believe the song has deeper roots in folk dance and Pagan Yule celebrations. No one knows for sure when the song originated, but we do know its popularity had spread at least as far as Austria by the 18th century, as the tune was ‘sampled’ by both Mozart and Haydn. “Deck the Hall” will be led in this week’s service by members of UUCC’s Chancel Choir, singing an arrangement by the legendary team of Alice Parker (b. 1925) and former First Unitarian Music Director Robert Shaw (1916-1999).

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director