Monday, December 02, 2019

Why choirs may choose not to sing Christmas songs

‘Tis the season to be jolly (apparently) and to sing Christmas carols.

But some choirs choose not to include Christmas songs in their repertoire. Why might this be?

I’ve written before about Why my own choirs don’t sing carols at Christmas.

learning carols in June?

One of the main reasons a choir might not have Christmas songs in their repertoire is that it means starting to learn them too early in the year. Some choirs might even begin their Christmas repertoire in the summer! See Christmas comes but once a year — so when to learn all the carols?
There are ways to avoid this though:

  • learn very simply carol arrangements that don’t take up much rehearsal time
  • adapt some existing repertoire by changing a few lyrics here and there, or use general celebration, or thankful/grateful songs.
  • have some multi-purpose wintery songs in your repertoire
  • don’t sing any Christmas songs at all

christmas is a religious holiday

Christmas is a Christian celebration at its heart (although it’s easy to forget that these days!). Some choirs choose not to sing religious songs at all, so songs about Christmas are out.

Other choirs have members from different cultures and religious backgrounds who don’t celebrate Christmas. They might decide to celebrate some, or all, of the other festivals around the same time of year.

Other festivals include Hanukkah (Jewish), Kwanzaa (African-American), HumanLight (Humanist), Yule (Pagan), Yalda (Iranian), and Koliada (Slavic).

Although these festivals come from different traditions, they are often subsumed into what has become known as “the holiday season.”

Some choirs mount a “holiday season” or “winter season” concert and may include a variety of songs from non-Christian traditions, or choose songs that celebrate the time of year. There are many traditional songs which celebrate the winter season and darkest time of the year.

Then there are other choirs who just want to escape what can become a frantic time of year and choose not to put on a concert during December at all.

What does your choir do?

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Chris Rowbury




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