Comfort and Joy by Bob Clark and Beverly Taylor ~ Liner Notes

Joy to the World ~ Isaac Watts (1674-1748) began writing poetry as a child and later turned some of those poems into hymns that would be sung in his father's church.  The first volume of original hymns by Isaac Watts was published in 1705, followed by a second volume in 1707.  He resigned from his own pulpit in 1712 due to poor health and devoted himself to the creation of hymns.  His work, Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, published in 1719, contained the poem, "Joy to the World," perhaps his best known work.  The melody we associate with "Joy to the World," is believed by some to be an adaptation done by Dr. Lowell Mason (1792-1872) in 1836 of "The Messiah," by George Frederick Handel.  Bob - hammered dulcimer; Beverly - harmony hammered dulcimer.

Joseph Dearest / Good Christian Men, Rejoice (In Dulce Jubilo) ~ "Joseph Dearest" is one of the most popular pieces of Christmas music in Germany.  The author and composer of "Joseph Dearest" remain anonymous, but it is thought that the lyrics date to around 1400.  "In Dulce Jubilo" is another ancient song with the melody also dating back to around 1400.  The English lyrics ("Good Christian Men, Rejoice") were written by the Reverend Dr. John Mason Neale in the mid 1800s.  Beverly - hammered dulcimer and recorder; Bob - guitar and triangle.

The First Noel ~ The spelling of the word "noel" suggests the carol is French, but the more appropriate spelling is "nowell," an English word dating back to the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400).  The origin of "The First Noel" points to the Cornwall section of England and it was first published by Davies Gilbert in his Some Ancient Christmas Carols of 1823.  Bob - hammered dulcimer and Autoharp (Autoharp is a registered trademark of Oscar Schmidt Instruments, Inc.); Beverly - keyboard and harmony hammered dulcimer.

Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head ~ According to the University of Kentucky School of Music, which houses the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, Niles composed "Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head" by the time of his recording in 1940 of "Early American Carols and Folksongs" on the RCA Victor "Red Seal" label.  Niles is also credited with composing "I Wonder as I Wander," "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair" and "Carol of the Birds."  Others, however, claim the song "Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head" is a traditional Appalachian carol whose author is unknown, and that Niles, as a "song catcher," collected the song in the 1930s instead of writing it.  Bob - hammered dulcimer and guitar; Beverly - keyboard.

The Holly and the Ivy ~ There is a great deal of symbolism in this song.  A wreath made of holly represented the thorny crown worn by Christ and the red berries were his drops of blood.  Ivy leaned more towards the pagan heritage because Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, wore a wreath of ivy.  The Winter Solstice celebrations often included dancing around evergreen plants that did not die in the winter as a symbol of life everlasting.  Holly was used in the Middle Ages to decorate homes and churches, for the people believed it repelled witches and tax collectors.  This song has roots that go back possibly several centuries, but oddly enough, it was first collected by Cecil Sharp in his book, English Folk Carols of 1911.  Beverly - hammered dulcimer; Bob - harmony hammered dulcimer and triangle.

O Come All Ye Faithful ~ John Francis Wade (1711-1786) was an English Catholic who lived and worked in France for a time as a music copyist who also sold music and taught music lessons.  In the mid-1700s, he was known to have worked in the Lancashire area of England.  The eight stanzas of "O Come All Ye Faithful" were written in Latin and first appeared in Wade's book, Cantus Diversi, published in 1751.  Samuel Webbe, Sr. (1740-1816) was an English music copyist who grew up in poverty and later learned several languages and became a gifted organist and composer.  Webbe's book, Essay on Church Plain Chant, published in London in 1782, contained the melody that would be associated with "O Come All Ye Faithful."  Reverend Frederick Oakeley (1802-1880) did a rough translation of the Latin verses into English in 1841, but revisited the translation eleven years later to give us the words we recognize today.  They appeared in print in London in 1852 in F. H. Murray's A Hymnal for Use in the English Church.  Bob - hammered dulcimer.

March of the Kings / Good King Wenceslas / Sing We Now of Christmas ~ "March of the Kings" is an ancient French piece with the words and music both being anonymous and dating as far back as the thirteenth century.  The music for "Good King Wenceslas" originated from a Swedish Spring carol entitled, "Tempus Adest Floridum," which was published in a book of carols in 1582.  The story tells of Wenceslas (based on Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, who lived from 907 to 935) making his way through the deep snow and the cold to deliver alms to the poor on Saint Stephens Day (December 26th).  The English lyrics were written by Reverend John Mason Neale and appeared in a publication entitled, Carols for Christmas-tide.  Beverly - hammered dulcimer and keyboard; Bob - hammered dulcimer, guitar, chimes and triangle.

O Tannenbaum / Deck the Halls ~ Evergreens have long been a symbol of life everlasting and the fir tree was especially popular with the European religions.  Christmas trees were seen by the early 1600s and they were widespread throughout Germany by the mid-1800s.  Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to England in 1841, the same year they appeared in Paris.  The words and music to "O Tannenbaum" are anonymous and date to the sixteenth century or seventeenth century.  "Deck the Halls" is a tune of Welsh origin that was first found in print in 1784 in a collection entitled, Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards.  The lyrics, possibly American, were first printed in 1881 in New York in The Franklin Square Song Collection.  Bob - hammered dulcimer.

Silent Night ~ Perhaps the best known carol of all, "Silent Night" also has a well known story behind it.  Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) supposedly wrote the poem after visiting a woodman's home after the birth of a child.  Mohr found the home and its surroundings to be rustic and simple and similar, he thought, to what the birth of Jesus must have been.  That, combined with the quiet and peace of the woods at night in the snow gave him the inspiration for the words.  Franz Gruber (1787-1863) composed the melody for guitar and created a simple arrangement reflecting the meaning of the words.  Their creation was performed for the first time in public at the midnight mass at the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria, on December 24, 1818.  The song was later passed along to others and it made its way, eventually, around the globe.  Beverly - hammered dulcimer; Bob - hammered dulcimer.

O Come Little Children / God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen ~ The words to "O Come Little Children" were written in the late 1700s by Christoph von Schmid (1768-1854).  Some sources indicate the translation from German to English was anonymous while others credit Melanie Schulte (1885-1922) for the translation.  The music was composed by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz (1747-1800).  Schulz was a music teacher in Berlin and toured Europe as an accompanist.  He later wrote operas and was the musical director of the Berlin French theater.  His career took him to Copenhagen where he remained for 18 years.  His health declined after a fire in which he attempted to save the music library at Copenhagen, and he died in Germany on June 10, 1800.  The words and music to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" are anonymous and date to the sixteenth century.  The song was collected by William Sandys in his work, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, of 1833, and it appeared in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in 1843.  Beverly - keyboard, recorder and background; Bob - hammered dulcimer and triangle.

Carol of the Bells ~ The origin of this song is a Ukrainian folk song entitled "Shchedryk" that actually celebrates the coming of Spring and tells of a sparrow who proclaims a bountiful year for a family.  Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych (1877-1921) composed his version of the tune in 1916.  Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978) heard this new melody based on a traditional folk song and wrote his own lyrics in 1936, changing it from a song of Spring to the sound of bells, possibly based on the Slavic legend that all the bells of the world rang the night of the birth of Jesus.  Wilhousky copyrighted the song with his lyrics and called it "Carol of the Bells."  Bob - hammered dulcimer; Beverly - harmony hammered dulcimer.

Angels We Have Heard on High ~ Both the words and the music of "Les Anges dans nos campagnes" are thought to have originated in the Lorraine or Provence sections of France.  It was first published in 1842, but scholars seem to think it may be older than that.  The French version had eight stanzas to the song, but the loosely translated English version by James Chadwick (1813-1882) had only four.  Bob - hammered dulcimer; Beverly - harmony hammered dulcimer.

O Holy Night ~ The words to "Cantique De Noel" were written by French poet Placide Cappeau (1808-1877) in 1847.  Cappeau later renounced Christianity and the lyrics to his song, but the public continued to love his work.  The music came from French composer Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) whose reputation was for writing ballets, especially "Giselle."  The French lyrics were translated into English by American clergyman John Sullivan Dwight (1818-1893), who was also a co-founder of the Harvard Music Society.  Bob - hammered dulcimer; Beverly - keyboard and harmony hammered dulcimer.
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Works Cited

1.  Clancy, Ron.  Best Loved Christmas Carols.  Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2006.
2.  Emurian, Ernest K.  Stories of Christmas Carols.  Baker Book House Co., 1996.
3.  Keyte, Hugh and Andrew Parrott.  The New Oxford Book of Carols.  Oxford University Press, 1998.

 

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