The start of the holiday season is typically marked by the radio stations return to the classics we all know. While it can be comforting to hear the same songs again, sometimes the repetition can become monotonous.
There have been attempts to write new songs to be added to the cannon of Christmas, but many never made it. If the classics are getting old, maybe it’s time to discover some good ones that haven’t remained popular. These songs have the length and many of the characteristics of the Christmas carols so many love.
Music and Lyrics by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett
Written by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett, this song was recorded by Rosemary Clooney in 1951. The lyrics speak of Suzy Snowflake who wears a snow-white gown. In the short song, she helps make a snowman, takes everyone on a sleigh ride, and brings joy to every girl and boy. You can find the 1951 stop-animation on youtube.
Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella
This French classic from the 16th century is often heard in instrumental form during the holidays. But who knows the words?
The song is about two milkmaids who go to the stable to milk the cows on Christmas night. They discover the baby Jesus and go to the village to tell the people. All the people come to the manger, but they have to be as quiet as possible because they don’t want to wake up the baby Jesus. A quick online search will reveal the long-lost words.
The Christmas Waltz
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn, Music by Jule Styne
This waltz has been recorded by many artists, including Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr., yet is still gets almost no radio airtime. Kristin Chenoweth recorded the most recent version of this slightly more secular Christmas song last fall and it’s definitely worth checking out on youtube.
How Lovely is Christmas
Words by Arnold Sundgaard, Music by Alec Wilder
Recorded by Bing Crosby, this charming carol has a memorable melody. It was written in 1957 and despite its lack of radio play, it is easily found with a quick internet search. Whether sung straight or in Bing Crosby’s crooning style, this is a good one that should be brought back.
I Wonder As I Wander
By John Jacob Niles
In 1933, folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles went to Murphy in North Carolina to collect folk material. In his autobiography he wrote this of his experience:
A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins…. But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song.
That single line was the inspiration for the somber song. While this song gets some attention during the holidays, it deserves much more.
Holiday songs can evoke a special atmosphere. We remember special moments with our loved ones and childhood memories when we hear those songs. However, there are so many wonderful Christmas songs out there that deserve another shot at fame. Maybe singing some of these songs with loved ones will create more holiday memories to come.
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