Friday, December 20, 2013


If anyone asks me what my favorite carol is my answer is quick--Carol of the Bells. It's been my favorite since I was a very young and according to my parents I loved it as a young toddler. I don't remember so I must take their word for it. 

My first memory of it was when I was just four and we lived in Washington D.C. I had a new baby brother that year. He was born October 25th. I was out in our small back yard. Big fat snowflakes were falling all around me and I was spinning around and trying to *fly* up to catch them and I *fell* right out of the sky when I heard it. It wasn't our neighbors on either side of us. It was coming up from the alley. My fenced in yard was 25 steps(my mother counted them the last time I escaped) above the alley. But someone was playing it loud on the radio, I think it was a radio but, it could have been a record player because another Christmas song followed it. What drew me was the sound of the bells. It was so pretty and different from what I had heard before. I really wanted to go down the steps and find where the song was coming from but that path had already gotten my little Houdini self in serious and painful trouble. I sat two steps down and listened (hey, I was still in the yard). I remember wanting it to play again like it did on Dad's record player.

I have two carols to share with you today. Both are unusual in different ways. One is played with carillon. The other isn't unusual in the instruments but the setting and reverence brought to the piece sets it apart.

This particular version of The Carol Of The Bells is played with bells. It's a manual carillon. The carillon in French, or glockenspiel in German, is a percussion instrument made up of tuned bronze cast cup shaped bells arranged in chromatic sequence and tuned in concordant harmony and played from a baton keyboard. It's a huge instrument and this one weighs in about 4 tons. I chose this particular video because it shows how it's played--both hand and foot movements. I'm not sure I would want to listen to many other songs on the carillon but for the Carol Of The Bells it's pretty cool.

I'm sure many of you have heard O Come, Emmanuel. This version is played by the Piano Guys on the piano and cello. For me, the cello is a haunting instrument. It touches something deep inside. I love the sense of reverence brought to this piece and watching Steve play...seeing the emotion well up from his heart as he plays is beautiful. The location they chose to play and the acoustics for this video is fabulous. 

You'll notice in the upper right of the video is a link to a special Christmas video which blends scenes from this video with an enactment of the story. It's pretty and well done.