Tired of the same old Christmas songs?
Like you, I get sick of the "supermarket" Christmas carols. Nothing against Rudolph, but I've already heard the story. So, in the interest of helping preserve your sanity and mine, here are some traditional Christmas carols which are quite beautiful, in any language.
5. En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa
A classic Finnish Christmas carol. Translated into English, the first verse says simply:
I do not search for power, glory, I do not need gold else;
I ask heaven, light and peace over the country!
Give me a Christmas that brings happiness and raises our minds to God!
No power or gold either, but peace on the country!
The novelist Zacharias Topelius wrote this song's lyrics; Jean Sibelius, the great Finnish composer, arranged the melody.
4. Santa Lucia
Throughout Scandinavia, but especially in Sweden and Norway, Saint Lucy's Day is celebrated on December 13th––twelve days before christmas. There are many traditions associated with Saint Lucy's Day, including this haunting, beautiful song.
Believe it or not, Italians also celebrate Saint Lucy's Day on December 13th, and they sing the same song! How this tradition migrated from Catholic Italy to Lutheran Scandinavia is a bit of a mystery, but the song is beautiful in Italian, Swedish, Norwegian or nearly any language.
Because Saint Lucy's Day and Christmas are so close together, songs of Saint Lucy's Day are considered Christmas carols. "Santa Lucia" is a classic holiday song that has been undeservedly forgotten, especially in North America.
3. I Wonder as I Wander
This song is an arrangement of a traditional Appalachian ballad. John Jacob Niles, a student of Appalachian folk music and a talented songwriter in his own right, came across an Appalachian girl who sang a fragmented song for him. Out of this fragment came "I Wonder As I Wander."
"I Wonder As I Wander" has been covered by everyone from Vanessa Williams to Peter, Paul and Mary. It is a beautiful song, but it also makes good background music––the melody and the lyrics are not intrusive.
2. Don OÃche Ãºd I mBeithil
A beautiful Gaelic Christmas song, describing "The night the Word was born." The theme reminds me a bit of Silent Night. If you have had a stressful day, this is just the right music to calm down with. Also, how can you go wrong with Gaelic?
1. Fairest Lord Jesus
Originally from Germany, The song was first translated into English in the 19th century. This hymn quickly gained popularity in the English-speaking world and the Scandinavian countries. Sadly, it has fallen out of favor, despite its beauty.
This is one song I hope is never overplayed.
A Moving Performance of Fairest Lord Jesus
A Word of Caution
Any of these songs, if played often enough, will become familiar, even annoying. However, all of these songs are quality songs, and serve as a good antidote to the schmaltzy music you'll hear this season.