Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Carols 1874-Style

File:Vickery Atkins and Torrey - Christmas Card.jpgWe’ve talked about Christmas carols in early nineteenth century England before. When I was researching the period around His Frontier Christmas Family, however, I knew I had nearly 100 years more of songs to choose from. So, what would have been popular carols on the Seattle frontier?

Angels from the Realms of Glory—originally published in England in 1816, this standard was in many hymnals during the period in England and abroad.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night—though originally published as a poem in the early 1700s in England, it was set to music as early as 1850 and also made up part of the established hymnal.

We Three Kings is of American vintage. Composed in 1857 by a minister for a city-wide Christmas pageant (and, dare I say, used in pageants large and small ever since), it was widely circulated.

Silent Night was originally a German hymn, composed for Christmas Eve mass. It was translated into English in 1859 in America, so it could easily have reached the West coast in time for a Wallin Christmas in 1874.

My personal favorite Christmas hymn is O Holy Night. I have been known to belt it out at the least provocation (just ask my neighbors or the people in the next town over). First composed in 1847 in French and translated into English by an American in 1857, it inspired soldiers in the Civil War and beyond. I imagine the Wallins would have been proud to sing it.

And speaking of music, if you'd like to know more about the music boxes of the period, head on over to Petticoats and Pistols, where I'll be guest blogging today (December 15). 

May you be surrounded by music this Christmas season.

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