This past week, my choir performed their holiday concert, and it got me thinking about my favorite songs for this time of year, as well as songs I'd like to perform next year. Today, I'm teaming up with my friend Amy Abbott at Music a la Abbott to blog about our favorite Christmas choir songs as well as ones we'd like to do for next year!
A couple notes:
My choir consists of third, fourth, and fifth graders. Many of these pieces could also work for middle school.
Many of the titles are linked to the octavos on JW Pepper or other sites; simply click to view!
#1: Christmas is coming
This is one of my favorites for this time of year. It's an English folk song that works well as a round. I've heard a few different versions of it, but this is the one I use:
You could also have one part of the choir sing “God bless you” on mi-re-do as an ostinato.
#2: “Minka” arr. by Jill Ann Jones
This is one of my all-time favorites for Christmas! It's a 2-part song that is pretty accessible, as you teach the first part, then you teach the second part, and then you have one half of the choir sing one part as the other half of the choir sings the second part! The piano part is also really fun to play. It's a wonderful addition to any holiday concert.
#3: “Christmas Time is Here” by Mendelson and Guaraldi, arr. by Pugh
I just LOVE this song from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”! I used this arrangement on last year's concert, but simplified it so it was in unison. Here is a video of my students singing it:
This was definitely a crowd pleaser. I mean, who doesn't love Charlie Brown?#4: “Al Shlosha D'Varim” by Naplan
Although this is not specifically a Christmas or Hanukkah song, I think the text is perfect for this time of year. It translates to: “The world is sustained by three things: by truth, by justice, and by peace.” The melody is gorgeous, and just like Minka, students can learn two different parts, then sing the parts together.
#5: “Christmas Canon” by O'Neill, Kinkel, and Pachelbel
You've likely heard this song by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Here is a video:
The piano part is Pachelbel's Canon, and then three parts are layered on top of each other. Again, it is accessible, and so many people are familiar with it, it's another crowd pleaser!
I realized after my choir concert, as I was listening to Christmas music on the way home, that I should plan NOW for what I want my next year's choir to perform, since I have holiday music on the brain!
Here are a few I'd like to program for next year:“Pat a Pan“ by Gilpin
I just realized that I ordered a full set of this octavo this summer…but then didn't use it on this year's concert! I absolutely LOVE this song, and am so excited to use it next year. Such a beautiful arrangement, and I love how suited it is for children's voices.“Winter Fantasy” by Gallina
This is a fun octavo that has a partner song with “Jingle Bells.” I'm excited to do this next year, as I'll have my choir perform it on their concert, but then I will also have it performed on my singalong. The audience will sing Jingle Bells, and then my choir will sing the partner song, and then we'll sing them together! (For more information about putting together a singalong, see this blog post.)“Man with the Bag” by Emerson
I love this song! I'm hoping to be able to explore the genre of vocal jazz through teaching it, and I know students will love it as much as I do! “Sleigh Ride” by Cristi Cary Miller
I just found out about this octavo through Amy Abbott's Facebook page. I listened and love the song, so plan on programming it for next year! She'll be including the video of her choir singing the song in her post, so make sure to check it out!
Even though it's December 19 as I write this, and you've likely already had all of your concerts, I hope you're able to bookmark this list as well as Amy's list so you can plan for next year. Feel free to comment below with your favorites for this time of year, as well as any other arrangements of the songs above that you love.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!