Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A singular favorite

I posted on my favorite Christmas songs of the season a week or so ago.  Truth be told, had I written that on another day, the list would be different. Some would still be there, but a couple would have been changed.  

Take the hymn All Come All Ye Faithful.  That is one of the earliest Christmas songs I remember hearing. My sister got a small musical play organ for Christmas when she was little.  It had a couple books of music for it.  One was a book of Christmas songs, and this was on the list.  It was the one she tried to play (and later, I successfully learned to play).

Perhaps because of that, a sort of 'familiarity breeds contempt', I usually don't put this as a favorite.  I've heard it for so many years it's more of less just part of the Christmas canvas.  Especially because it's often played in churches across every tradition but Orthodoxy.   

Nonetheless, there is one version I absolutely love, and if I was writing about which versions of Christmas songs I love, it would be this one:

Andy Williams was a favorite for both my parents.  Along with my dad's other records, he had several of Mr. Williams and I used to listen to them as much as any others.  His powerful yet smooth voice just struck the right chord for me. 

But his version of this standard is one of the best.  The whole builds to a crescendo by the end when he hits the last 'The Lord' in the lyrics, he absolutely sticks it.  Musically speaking, he hits absolute perfection, with both that high note and the lovely fade away.  I don't hear him nail that last note without getting goose bumps.  

I have a couple Andy Williams CDs and albums, and they're staples for our annual Christmas play lists.  But when this one comes on, I stop what I'm doing and listen.  By the end, it's worth it every time.


  1. He does have a lovely voice - I love his rendition of The First Noel. Happy Holidays came on when I was in Kroger the other day, and I perked up because even if it's sappy, it's so much nicer than most of the stuff they play in stores.
    In an effort to cheer myself up, and inspired by your Christmas music posts, I'm sharing some of my favorites on my blog this week. :)

    1. Yes he does, a strong and yet soothing one. And his version of The First Noel, alone with O Holy Night, are among my favorites.

      Sorry about the impact on your Christmas plans. Though I admit, I had never heard of the Shepherd’s Pipe Carol. So I certainly learned something! And yes, it was a very joyful tune.

  2. Semi-regular reader here who almost always agrees with everything you say. But today we have a fundamental disagreement - if you are looking for absolute perfection in the rendering of this carol, it can only be found in Frank Sinatra's version from 1957, when he was at his absolute vocal peak. There is a clarity and purity to Sinatra's voice (from his prime, anyway) that Williams could never match. That voice, applied to the six traditional carols from the original side 2 to his classic Jolly Christmas album, surely pleases the angels.

    May this be our strongest disagreement during the new year!

    1. Hopefully it is! My dad was a Sinatra fan, and I have multiple Sinatra Christmas collections (and his entire collection of Sinatra LPs). He does do a great job with the carol, as he usually does with most of his performances. But it's that last note of Williams, that perfect hit that just pushes it over the edge for me. I have to stand on this one. I give all credit to The Voice, but to me at least, the prize for this particular carol goes to Williams.


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