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Christmas Music in New England

 

 

Old New England Christmas Carols

New England Christmas Book

One Horse Open Sleigh: The Story of "Jingle Bells"

CD: "New Bethlehem" - Christmas Music in New England

Additional Christmas CDs

Popular Christmas CDs

 


 

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Old New England Christmas Carols

by Roger Lee Hall
Director, New England Music Archive [NEMA]

 

It is not generally known that the first popular American Christmas carols were composed in early New England times.

18th Century

The composer who was most responsible for the first Christmas music was William Billings (1746-1800), who lived his entire life in Boston and taught singing schools in various places, including Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Billings wrote what are believed to be the first Christmas hymns and carols in America during the 1770s.

These are some of the titles, a few with Billings own texts:


"Bethlehem" ( While shepherds watched their flocks by night)
"Boston" (Methinks I see a heav'nly host of angels on the wing)

"Emanuel" (As shepherds in Jewry were guarding their sheep)
"Judea" (A Virgin unspotted by Prophets foretold)
"Shiloh" (Methinks I see a heav'nly host of angels on the wing)



Other 18th New England composers of Christmas music include:



Supply Belcher (Canton, Massachusetts/Farmington, Maine): "Carol"
(While shepherds watched their flocks by night, 1794)

Bartholomew Brown (East Bridgewater, Massachusetts):
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

Edward French (Sharon, Massachusetts): "New Bethlehem"
(While shepherds watched their flocks by night, 1799)
Some sources incorrectly credit this carol to his brother, Jacob French.

Daniel Read (Hartford, Connecticut): "Sherburne"
(While shepherds watched their flocks by night, 1785)

 

19th Century

 

"Joy to the World" [tune name: ANTIOCH] --
music by Lowell Mason, "Arranged from HANDEL"

"It Came Upon The Midnight Clear" --
words: Edmund H. Sears/ music: Richard S. Willis, 1850

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" -- words: Rev. Phillips Brooks/
music: Lewis Redner, 1868

"Away in a Manger" -- words & music: James R. Murray, 1887

"A Christmas Carol" -- words & music: Charles Ives, 1894

 

Many of these carols are featured on the CD,
"New Bethlehem" - Christmas Music in New England

 

 

A New England Christmas Book

Christmas in New England

 

Christmas in New England
by Amy Whorf McGuiggan

 

This excellent book is recommended
especially for the section on music, art and literature (89-121)
and for "The Shakers: A Gift To Be Simple" (138-41)

 

 

 


 

The Story of "Jingle Bells"

There is a song associated with Christmas,
written by a Massachusetts born songwriter.
Read more at

One Horse Open Sleigh: The Story of "Jingle Bells"

 

 


"NEW BETHLEHEM" - Christmas Music in New England


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Christmas Music in New England CD

 

 

 

Additional CDs

Here are a few other recommended CDs
which contain
Christmas music from New England:

 

 

 

"Auld Lang Syne" - American Holiday Songs and Carols
(AMRC 0025)


 

 

 

 

An American Christmas

An American Christmas
(The Boston Camerata)

 

 

 

An American Christmas
(The Tudor Choir)

 

 


 

Christmas in Early America

Christmas in Early America: 18th Century Carols and Anthems
(The Columbus Consort)

 

 

 

Carols From the Old & New Worlds, Vol. 1
(Theatre of Voices)

 

 

 

Joy of Angels:
Shaker Music for Christmas and the New Year

 

 

 

Popular Christmas CDs

 

A few CDs that include popular New England Christmas carols:

 

To Wish You a Merry Christmas

 

One of the most beautiful popular Christmas albums was recorded in the 1950s by the sublime voice of Harry Belafonte.

To order this soothing and serene CD, click this link:

To Wish You A Merry Christmas

 

 

 




RED, WHITE and BLUE:
Christmas Hit Songs by Gene, Bing, and Elvis

 

 

 


Return to top of the page

 

 

"Auld Lang Syne" - American Holiday Somngs and Carols

Christmas Music in America

Joy of Angels: Shaker Spirituals for Christmas and The New Year

"Joy to the World" -
Early New England Christmas Carol

The Story of
"Jingle Bells"

Top Christmas
Hit Songs

 

 

 

 

 

     
   
   
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