|Everyone has their favourite Christmas carol and Silent Night rates the top spot for many people.|
Something about the season's music has caught you. Maybe you croon Irving Berlin's White Christmas, made popular by Bing Crosby more than half a century ago. It still evokes warm feelings, even if you have to ask, "Bing who?"
Maybe you pa-rum-pum-pum-pum with the Little Drummer Boy as you decorate the tree, trade stocks, fry hamburgers, attack a car with a grease gun or whatever tasks fill your busy days.
Or you're belting out Jingle Bells as you cruise through rush hour traffic, not in a one-horse sleigh, but a half-decade old Toyota.
Maybe your dog howls along as you promise you'll have a Blue Christmas without him.
Christmas music has a way of capturing hearts, whatever we may think of the season. We all have our favourites and reasons for our picks.
Last year, Classic FM did an online poll that named O Holy Night by Adolph Adam the favourite carol of the year.
The Huffington Post says Away in a Manger is No. 1.
MusicRadar claims the best Christmas songs of all time are topped by Mary's Boy Child, and Carols.org.uk says the top song is Carols of the Bells. We guess it depends on who you ask and where.
"Christmas music has been a very important part of our culture for a long time," said Okanagan musician Max DeBeeson. "That applies in just about every facet of our multi-culture, regardless of our backgrounds."
DeBeeson, as a professional cellist, has played Christmas music with various Okanagan groups, and muses about the songs people seem to like best.
"People never get tired of hearing Handel's Messiah," he said, including himself in that assessment.
It's been the major work performed during the Christmas season across Canada, starting as early as 1793 in Quebec. Something about the Hallelujah Chorus still brings us to our feet.
Probably the real No. 1 Christmas carol is the one we personally love the most and that may have to do with when we heard it first. If your daughter lisped the lyrics of Lullaby and Good Night in a nativity manger scene, that's your hands-down favourite.
Personally, I can't forget the sound of my dad singing Silent Night. It's been many years since I've heard his voice, but I still hear him singing in my mind, and his gravelly tones invoke the deepest hush of the season for me.
Silent Night would likely come out near the top in a people's poll of favourites. It's beautiful, simple, reverent and easy to sing. It's one of the first carols children learn to play on an instrument.
It originated in the Austrian Alps in 1818. Tragedy struck a little village church when the organ broke down. How could they have a Christmas service without music?
Impossible, thought Joseph Mohr, the church leader. But maybe they could sing a simple song without the organ, he mused, and took up his quill to scratch down words that had been running through his mind: "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright, 'round yon virgin mother and Child. Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace."
He handed to words to Franz Gruber, the church organist, asking him to try to improvise a simple tune.
Gruber not only came up with a tune, but he picked up his guitar and searched for chords. Far into the night by candlelight the men worked that Christmas Eve. When morning dawned, the village folks gather for Christmas Day service. Yes, they would have music. To a simple guitar strumming, they sang Silent Night for the first time.
It might have become nothing more than an obscure Alpine folk song, but the organ repairman who came a few days later liked it, copied the song and shared it with others. Soon, touring groups were singing it in concerts across Europe.
Nearly 200 years later we're still singing it, still feeling the holy hush.