Where did Christmas carols begin?

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Usually in the fall there’s a debate on when to start blasting Christmas music.

What is it about Christmas music that people never tire of hearing year after year? With hums in her head, 7NEWS Anchor Stephanie Grindley got to the bottom of the songs that set holiday mood. 

At St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church: ’tis’ the season to start hearing Christmas carolers, but what is a Christmas carol anyways?” 

A song that is sung in a dance formation of a circle or a ring as they used to call it. And so, it’s obviously related to celebration of some kind. And at Christmas time, our songs like ‘Deck the Halls’ or ‘Wassail’ carols are very much in that tradition.” 

Bob Troeger, Choir Master at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

You’d be hard pressed to find a carol that isn’t at least a century old. Troeger, the organist at St. Matthew’s, a music expert here in Wheeling. 

If there’s a most iconic carol, Troeger says it must be ‘Silent Night,’ which is the product of a happy accident.

The organ in the little German church broke down and so the music director who played the guitar came up and improvised a carol! And it was so beautifully crafted and designed on the spot, so to speak, that it has really stuck all over the world.

Bob Troeger, Choir Master at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

 You didn’t really hear carols until after the Puritans, who apparently did not have a celebratory instinct when it came to the birth of Christ. 

Music transcends. Sure, there are variations, but the beauty is a universal hum. Today, carols at St. Matthews continue to be added to the hymn book; ones from Africa, some written in Spanish, centuries old but only now making their way to our musical vocabulary.

Christmas music in general has a way of pulling us through all of our years. Often people will fall down in tears because it makes them think of joyful times, but on the other hand, it gives them the joy to go forward in their life celebrations.

Bob Troeger, Choir Master at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

 Whether it’s a silent night, or you’re decking the halls… I still don’t know what that means, I hope this gave you a little bit more context on the Christmas spirit.

Come Tuesday night at St. Matthew’s Episcopal in Wheeling, you can put you can listen to a cantata, “What Sweeter Music”. 

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