Carols We Love
Peter Onesta, Johannesburg – Thank you for Günther Simmermacher’s article on “Stille Nacht”, one of the most-loved carols, and the belated recognition of writer Fr Joseph Mohr and composer Franz Gruber.
May I mention some beautiful carols which are not as well known?
There is the French carol “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” and the Polish “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”.
I have these in a small booklet of carols which I was given by the Grail when they sang at a Midnight Mass in the chapel of the old Johannesburg General Hospital in Smit Street in 1959.
A delightful carol is “From Out of a Wood Did a Cuckoo Fly” in the Oxford Book of Carols. The cuckoo refrain can be imitated most effectively on a 2’ organ stop!
Finally, there is the Harold Darke setting of Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter”, which the former Maryvale choir sang one Midnight Mass.
In the Presbyterian hymnal the verse which mentions “a breastful of milk” is omitted — too much for the Victorians.
The words and music make this one of the finest and most uplifting pieces ever written. (I first heard it at evensong in St George’s Anglican cathedral in Cape Town.)