Archive for December 2010

LibriVox Christmas Collections

December 24, 2010

Two new LibriVox collections are now out: The Christmas Short Works Collection and the Christmas Carol Collection.

In the Short Works, I read two short stories: Bertie’s Christmas Eve by the inimitable Saki and Christmas Storms and Sunshine by Mrs. Gaskell. Both delightful stories to enjoy over a glass of wine and a mince pie.

In the Christmas Carol Collection I sing three – two of which are very ancient indeed. The Boar’s Head Carol is still sung every year as part of a procession at Queen’s College, Oxford. More info about this ancient tradition in Wikipedia here.

The second is a traditional Wassail Song, which is very jolly. If you have never heard of the term wassail, it is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning literally ‘good health’ or ‘be you healthy’. The song refers to ‘wassailing’, or singing carols door to door wishing good health.

My third this year is a less well-known sacred carol Sleep! Holy Babe.

Contributions to previous collections:

Christmas Short Works Collection 2008:
A Christmas Tree by Charles Dickens
The Coventry Carol (sung)
Die Koenige by Peter Cornelius (sung). (The Atkins arrangement, Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar, is still under copyright, but the original German is in the Public Domain.)

Christmas Carol Collection 2009:
In Dulci Jubilo (sung)

Christmas Short Works Collection 2009
A Christmas Mystery: the Story of Three Wise Men by William J. Locke
Poem: Old Christmas Returned
Quem Pastores Laudavere (sung)

I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas, and a prosperous New Year! 🙂

Christmas audiobook release

December 8, 2010

Here’s my little Christmas present to my listeners: Dickens’ second Christmas book, published the year after A Christmas Carol, and a year before The Cricket on the Hearth, but mostly, and unjustifiably, forgotten.

It is called The Chimes, and it is my one-woman mission to make Toby Veck (Trotty) as well-known as Bob Cratchit. The Chimes are the church bells, in which Toby, a poor ticket-porter, believes he hears messages, and they play a major part in the story.

It has, like all Dickens’ Christmas books, a strong moral message, and reminds us what absolute poverty is really like. Dickens was a champion of the poor decades before Charles Booth’s survey in the 1890s, when poverty was still widely seen as the fault of the individual.

Make sure you have a hankie, unless you have a heart of stone.

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