Deck the Hall
The Stories of our Favourite Christmas Carols
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'Christmas carols are sung in church, therefore Christmas carols have always been sung in church.
Christmas carols have these words and this tune, therefore Christmas carols have always had these words and this tune.
Well, not really.
Our carol tradition, like us, is a rich and dynamic mixture. An ecosystem, not a still life.'
Written with effervescent charm and professional knowledge, composer and conductor Andrew Gant reveals the fascinating musical and social history behind our favourite Christmas carols.
From the Annunciation to Epiphany, the episodes of the Christmas story link the tales and anecdotes behind twenty-seven carols from a variety of traditions and places of origin: those that come from folk song; those we owe to Victorian moralists, and those that are, in fact, French. As Andrew says, 'Some carols were born to Christmas, some have achieved Christmas, and some have had Christmas thrust upon them.'
This wonderful, rich musical treat gives us a unique insight into our Yuletide traditions and customs. A delightful gift for anyone who loves to sing, or who just loves Christmas trivia, this is the ideal companion with which to while away those lazy days between Christmas and New Year.
'Ding dong! This is my kind of Christmas present. A musical Christmas cracker -
fascinating and full of interesting surprises.'
'Enlightening and entertaining. You'll never hear or sing these carols in the same way again'
'And I thought I knew about Christmas carols.'
What an absolute gem of a book. It's much more than a history of carols. Gant has one of those rare minds that can bring together strands from so many different histories: language, literature, music, dance, church, societal and political histories all gather in this book. Our understanding of the wonderfully complex and fertile soil which has enabled the birth and nourished the development of the carols we all think we know so well is hugely enriched. It is meticulously researched and beautifully presented, and yet is anything but dry. Gant's writing rolls merrily with wit and love, and it is a joy to read. I shall be giving it to everyone for Christmas! * James Gilchrist, Tenor *
Ding dong, merrily on high ... this is my kind of Christmas present. A musical Christmas cracker - fascinating and full of interesting surprises. * Gyles Brandreth *
Andrew Gant provides us with a fluent but flinty digest of the modern scholarship concerning 22 of our favourite seasonal songs. -- Kathryn Hughes * The Guardian (Praise for Christmas Carols: from Village Green to Church Choir) *
Rich in picturesque detail. -- Kirsty McClusky * The Tablet (Praise for Christmas Carols: from Village Green to Church Choir) *
An intriguing history. -- Jane Shilling * The Daily Mail (praise for Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir) *
Which Christmas carol started life as a song about a dead ox? Andrew Gant reveals the curious truth about some of our favourites. * Country Life (praise for Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir) *
After reading this book, I'll never think about these much-loved Christmas carols in the same light again! Andrew Gant gives a fascinating context to each of them - an insight into life at the time they evolved, an idea of why the writer was moved to create these lines, and the way in which melodies and verses have been so perfectly partnered down the years that we find it hard to believe people in other countries might choose a completely different tune. There's a wealth of facts for each carol, but Andrew has a light touch that engages us in the detail, whilst drawing us ever closer to the seasonal wonder and glory of Christ's birth on that holy night in Bethlehem. -- Pam Rhodes
A delight * Sunday Times - Praise for Christmas Carols: from Village Green to Church Choir *
In Deck the Hall, Andrew Gant delivers the very surprising stories behind the best-loved music of the Christmas season. You'll never hear or sing these carols in the same way again. There's everything here, the true and enduring spirit of Christmas, plus why food and love have played such an important role in the traditional tunes which are part of our lives. An enlightening, entertaining winter read, this is fascinating festive fare of the musical variety. Get ready to tuck in and share the tales. * Anne-Marie Minhall, Classic FM *
Medieval saints rub shoulders with drunken monks, eccentric clergymen, Victorian spinsters and dodgy gold prospectors in this rollicking history of Christmas carols and those who wrote them.
Entertaining, erudite, enlightening: everything you never knew about Christmas carols in one festive cracker of a book ... And I thought I knew about Christmas carols.
* John Rutter *
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