New arrangements of well-known carols?
December 1, 2019 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I would appreciate any suggestions for 20th/21st century arrangements of well-known "standard" Christmas carols, probably still choral.

For an atheist I do adore carol singing, but mainly only know about the type of stuff we sung in my 80s Anglican primary school. I just heard Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, for the first time, in THIS gorgeous version and was surprised how stodgy and four-to-the-floor the more traditional version is in contrast.
What other modern i.e. post-Victorian arrangements of choral carols are there that are much better than what your average British congregation belts out or famous cathedral choir drones? Not pop or electro, not unserious. Particularly welcome versions on the more reflective/meditative side.

posted by runincircles to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don’t think it falls under what you’re considering “pop” or “unserious” (apologies if it does) but Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas albums may be worth a listen, or at least a sample. Here’s Verge ranking 100 of his tracks (forewarning: lots of originals).
posted by supercres at 11:49 AM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

San Francisco Choral Artists recorded Star of Wonder in 1986. I particularly like their Noel Nouvelet and Deck the Halls.
posted by Rash at 12:03 PM on December 1, 2019

Well, this is a famous choir, and this version has become standard-enough fare that you might have sung it in your Anglican school in the 80s.

HOWEVER: Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful) with the David Willcocks descant is pretty spectacular. Great harmonies on the last verse too.
posted by inexorably_forward at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

On Tori Amos' Midwinter Graces album, she reworked some holiday carols, sang some more pagan ones, and threw in some originals. Vocal but not choral, I guess. Though her interplay with the backing vocals on is lovely.

Not exclusive to Christmas and of course I can't remember the title (helpful, I know), but someone wrote a stunning secular Mass for Unitarian-Universalist congregations. (Just in case, UU's are not necessarily theists.) It's in Latin and features amazing choral work and instrumentation--my church rehearsed for a year. The songs are about environmental justice, interdepence, etc. I'm trying to look it up but just finding stuff about UU's in Massachusetts.
posted by mermaidcafe at 2:57 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Speaking of David Willcocks I have this cd of carols arranged by him and it's lovely.
This album is also a very nice mix of somewhat familiar and somewhat obscure Christmas choral music that I was listening to today and is quite joyful. You can get it streaming on Google Play music at least (haven't checked other services). I'm not old I just inherited my parents' Christmas music via CDs.
posted by ch1x0r at 3:52 PM on December 1, 2019

I really like Loreen McKennit's Christmas albums (two of them, I think), as well as Kate Rusby's.
posted by TwoStride at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2019

Look for any arrangements that may be done by Eric Whitacre or others in that vein.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:34 AM on December 2, 2019

This 7/8 Deck the Halls is fun.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:26 PM on December 2, 2019

This sort of thing is my jam so I swore I'd know loads but I think people do tend to stay away from the trad-est of lyrics.

Coventry Carol by Kenneth Leighton (I can't remember what it's published as, maybe Lully lulla)

(Literally) jazzy and you might hate the lead vocal style but I found The Swingles' O come O come Emmanuel in my YouTube likes and I'm obsessed with those chords, I love it.

Here's a Silent Night by Sarah Quartel I'm giving you after the first three-and-a-half bars. I have listened to the rest now too. Quite like it.

Omg in a similar vein this In dulci jubilo by Matthew Culloton - SO cute. I love cheese. Here's the whole album actually.

Very sweet Silent Night by Michael John Trotta.

Don't know who arranged this Away in a Manger sung by New York Polyphony but it's a gorgeous one of the Normandy tune.
posted by lokta at 5:00 PM on December 2, 2019

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