Saturday, December 22, 2012

25 Days of Holiday Music: Day 22

Today's tune is a staple of the Christmas holiday: "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Now, notice that comma that appears before "Gentlemen." That is not only the correct punctuation, it is the correct pronunciation -- you are meant to pause slightly before saying "Gentlemen." That is because the greeting or wish is "God rest you merry" and it is addressed to a group of, presumably, gentlemen. It is not a song that declares "God rest you" to a band of "merry gentlemen" as though they were in jolly old Sherwood. And the "rest" in "God rest ye" (or "God rest you") means "keep." So the song indicates a wish, or prayer, perhaps, that God keep you merry, healthy, and happy.

Perhaps the song's best known use is in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, as it is the tune that a young caroler sings at Mr. Scrooge in hopes of a coin or two, but only to be chased away by a ruler for his troubles.

As befits this merry carol, I have several versions to share with you today.

First, we'll start with a simple, yet beautiful, rendition of the carol by Callie Moore and her sister, Colette. Callie has one album, Zen Garden (2010), and several singles, including this recording and two other Christmas songs, to her credit. Andy they are all available on iTunes. Callie Moore's version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is a bit slower than traditional, but the tempo is well-suited by the acoustic accompaniment and the vocal duet.

In 1988, several luminaries from GRP Records got together to record that labels first holiday album: A GRP Christmas Collection. All but one of the artists on that release fall under Smooth Jazz. That one tune that's somewhat out of place was courtesy of Chick Corea, who really wasn't doing mellow during his Elektric Band days. That makes the virtuoso keyboardist the perfect pick to remake a rocking jazz-fusion recording of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." I was not able to find a video clip, but you can listen to the song on my Box account.

If that last version didn't quite rock enough for you, fear not. Trans-Siberian Orchestra will probably do the trick. Their recording is an instrumental medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells" named "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)." Trans-Siberian's version is a re-release of the song first recorded by Savatage on their 1995 album, Dead Winter Dead. If you're not into 90s heavy metal, you probably only know Trans-Siberian's version, particularly from numerous lighting displays using it for a soundtrack.

If you like my music posts, I would appreciate you giving me some +K in Music on @klout. And, please, do check out the other entries in my 25 Days of Holiday Music series!

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