What are you listening to this Christmas?

James Morrison’s grooving Christmas album has been filling our house and the delightful kids album Christmas in the Scrub is on repeat in the car. Andrew and I went to the WA Symphony Orchestra’s Messiah earlier in the month so we have been listening to Handel too.

I just watched the Nutcracker ballet with my children and was so relieved to be swept away in the gentle magic of its imaginary Christmas world. The lavish production by the New York City Ballet had my children entranced and Tchaikovsky’s music had us dancing around the lounge room. I much prefer this version of Christmas screen time to the many junky Christmas movies around.

But here is something different again. Katie Noonan has put me on to Thad Jones’ beautiful jazz standard A Child is Born that contemplates the birth of Jesus and the miracle of new life.

Lyric by Alec Wilder
Now, out of the night, soft as the dawn, into the light,
This child, innocent child, soft as a fawn, this child is born
Here he lies, trusting and warm, blessed as the dawn
A child is born.
One small heart, one pair of eyes, one work of art, here in my arms
Here he lies, trusting and warm, blessed this morn.
A child is born.

 And finally a work by the great English composer Judith Weir. Her setting of the medieval carol Illuminare is performed here by the Choir of King’s College, with an excerpt of the medieval lyrics below.

1. Jerusalem reioss for joy: 

Jesus the sterne of most bewte
In thee is rissin, as rychtous roy,
Fro dirknes to illumyne the. 

With glorius sound of angell gle 

Thy prince is borne in Baithlehem 

Quhilk sall thee mak of thraldome fre. 

Illuminare, Jerusalem.

We join with centuries of artists, composers, and musicians when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. May your festivities be rich with the joy, creativity and mystery that is Christmas.

Merry Christmas!
(If you are reading this in your inbox you may have to go to my blog to access the youtube clips. Happy listening!)