Santa Cruz
52 Authors: Week 52 - Jean DaniƩlou


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Thanks for this, Maclin, and merry Christmas.

You all who know so much more about movies than I do will be amused by the story of our Christmas present mishap this year. We wanted to find an event to take my father to for Christmas. Searching the schedule of a local art movie theater, my husband found a movie set in Oklahoma, directed by someone with an Italian name, that seemed to reference the Magnificent Seven. "Hey, I bet your father would love a spaghetti Western that happens during a snowstorm!" And that's how we came to give him tickets to Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight."

Luckily, our kids intervened in time to find a substitution.

Good thing too. I have a feeling he wouldn't have liked it. ;-)

I don't know anything specifically about this movie, but I would have known from the Tarantino brand not to recommend it to anyone at all sight unseen. Fortunate intervention by your children. (And you're welcome.)

Well, from the trailer on YouTube that seems like a fair description of the film. But indeed, Tarantino ...

I've loved 'O Holy Night' since I was a little kid. The version I remember hearing first was by Franco Corelli on a "Firestone -- Your Christmas Favorites" album from the early 60s. I still love that recording. The fact that Corelli sang it in English but with a strong Italian accent made it seem more pious to me for some reason when I was a kid.

And I've always been rather indifferent to 'Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming' until I heard that Sandstrom arrangement for the first time a few weeks ago.

I was sorry not to see Slade mentioned among the "pop" options. Perhaps they never took off in the US?

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is one I often find myself humming in cold weather. In early December 2012, which was pretty bleak (unlike the current spring-like weather), I was driving around the North of England in a rental car, visiting students on placement, and couldn't get it out of my head for days. It hadn't been on the radio or anything.

Sunday at Mass, a young woman with a lovely bell-like voice played Bleak Midwinter on the harp and sang. It was lovely and not bleak at all.


The Atlantic writer seems to have completely missed the metaphorical use of winter to show the state of the world before the birth of Christ, and instead puts it down to Christina Rossetti's not having got around much.

Yes. As Mac says, the ones by Emma Green are a lot better.

"Firestone -- Your Christmas Favorites." We had that record. My favorite, though, was the Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians one. I also like the Andy Williams one.

I just found out they have Waring's The Sounds of Christmas on Spotify (!).

Slade has a Christmas album?! Or song, at least, I gather?

It's true they never really took off here, though they weren't completely unknown, either. Their image made them seem pretty dumb, which is generally not a negative for pop music, but maybe they were dumb in an English way that didn't appeal to Americans. I remember a friend somewhat sheepishly trying to make the case for them, and being laughed at.

We had two Firestone Christmas records, and also a Goodyear one. The latter has Andy Williams's 'O Holy Night.'

We had that Fred Waring one too, and also a Mitch Miller Christmas album.

I try to buy a new Christmas CD every year or two -- this year I picked up this one:

It's pretty good, but not as good imo as their older CD The Mystery of Christmas, which is a favorite of mine. Their version of 'The Huron Carol,' which is the opening track, is the best I've heard. And the album closes with a great version of John Tavener's "God Is With Us."

I suppose Slade's image is pretty much a bunch of daft lads having fun, without much depth or talent to back them up. Perhaps that niche was already taken. Or perhaps fun wasn't so marketable in the punk period. I've always been fond of them more for regionalist than for aesthetic reasons. (I have family in the town they're from.) Their Christmas song is one of the most overplayed on British radio (or used to be, at least):

It beats Paul McCartney's song, which for some reason irritates me to an irrational degree. And speaking of overplayed: John Lennon's quasi-Christmas song certainly is over here. Fortunately I find it sort of pleasant.

I've never been real keen on "O Holy Night." Maybe due to too many overblown performances. I never heard "Lo How a Rose" when I was growing up, or, maybe more likely, didn't notice it. I was well into adulthood, probably my mid-30s, before I really heard it, and I think it was on an anthology of Renaissance music with no Christmas association. So I came to love it without really thinking of it as a Christmas song.

There's another feature of Christmas carols that most of those articles missed. The first verse, which is the only one many people know, often just says that Baby Jesus was born. But the subsequent verses go into more detail of the theology of the birth, and of the worship that it calls for in response.

Most (all?) are written by non-Christians, so I don't especially fault them for that. It's a plus when Emma Green really understands it.

I find the "12 days" as preceding Christmas to be terribly sad.

~~~I've never been real keen on "O Holy Night." Maybe due to too many overblown performances.~~~

Entirely understandable. As Emma Green says in her piece, the song is rooted in humility, and grandiose performances tend to work against that.

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