Sunday, 2 December 2018

Christmas Music… Joy To the World

DC Editor Adam writes…

At this time of year, with Christmas themed tunes blasting out at us from every turn, it's difficult not to lose patience (!) with the whole idea of seasonal music.

This year I'm aiming to stop and have not only a good listen, but also a look at the history of our favourite Christmas music, keeping a particular eye on London connections. I hope you enjoy this series and that it might help a little bit when you are cracking-up while doing the Christmas shopping on Oxford Street…



Joy To The World

Isaac Watts, regarded as the "Godfather of English Hymnody", spent much of his life in Stoke Newington. His likeness can be found in Abney Park Cemetery, although, as a committed Non-Comformist, his remains lie in the dissenters' cemetery at Bunhill Fields.



His most famous Christmas Carol is Joy To The World, first published in England in 1719.





Fragments of the melody are reminiscent of passages from Handel's Messiah and we often see the music credited (wrongly) to Handel. The American composer Lowell Mason, who introduced the song to the U.S is also (again, wrongly) credited with the tune. No documentary evidence exists of the original composer.

What we DO know is that it is the most published hymn in America – published in more than 1,300 collections of Christmas Carols.

Five contrasting versions of this famous Christmas carol can be found on this playlist…





Find Abney Park Cemetery here…





Bonus tracks! A few more of Isaac Watt's most famous works…





Keep In Touch…

   


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