Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Abomination of the Week

This week’s abomination is how Americans turn certain Christmas carols into sugary goo. Away in a Manger and O Little Town of Bethlehem are front and center in that regard.

Here is the proper way to sing Away in a Manger:

Now, with a warning to sensitive ears, here is the American way:

For O Little Town of Bethlehem, there are two acceptable ways.

And, again with a warning, here is the American way:

Why do Americans err so? When it comes to Christmas, if you give Americans the choice between the strong and stately and the sappy and sentimental, they will go for the latter just about every time.

I just might flee to England next year.


cynic said... a Brit..... I much prefer the American versions...

Charlie Sutton said...

Americans tend to think of trained vocal singing as affected and inauthentic. Rather than allow the music and words of the song to move them, they want the emotions of the singer to move them - and so those emotions need to be front and center. Since Americans tend to be all sentimental and goopy over Christmas (and not awed and astonished) they want their Christmas singing to be all goopy.

RECCHIP said...


Each of these carols has two tunes which are commonly used.

Away in Manger-Most Anglicans sing it to the tune sung by the English Choir and just about everybody else uses the tune sung by "Clara."

As to O Little Town of Bethlehem, both tunes are in the 1940 Hymnal (THE Standard). Most choirs sing the one you liked and most congregations prefer the second. I am sure that this Christmas season, our choir (which includes me so I know) will sing the first one as an anthem on Christmas eve and on one of the two Sundays of Christmas (Dec 26 or Jan 2) the congregation will sing the other tune.

There is nothing "inferior" about one tune or the other. In fact, quite often, we have to do an "insert" so that people will have the correct music for the "Away in the Manger" which they prefer to sing.

Reformation said...

Good observations, press on.