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1. Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels We Have Heard on HighDuring December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

My number one song “Angels We Have Heard on High” combines all of the great features from the rest of the songs on my list. I sang it in every choir from elementary to high school and in the caroling group at AST. It has a great melody and unforgettable bass line. It includes Latin for practicing my language skills. It is easy to sing while being full of joy and passion. “Angels We Have Heard on High” best embodies the meaning and spirit of Christmas. This year, we especially need that spirit.

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2. Grown-Up Christmas List

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

This song is different from the others on my list. It is the only one I didn’t sing, and it has more of a socially conscious theme.

There are other socially conscious songs I could have added to the list: Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which is marking its 30th anniversary this year. However, “Grown-Up Christmas List” shows the personal suffering that doesn’t get press coverage. This suffering happens all around us, including our own communities. Read more »

3. Balulalow

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble 1976-1977

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols was the hardest piece of music I ever had to sing. It had unfamiliar melodies, tense and discordant harmonies, and Middle English lyrics. (It did help me when I studied Chaucer, though.) When I had to tackle it in my first year in the Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble, I thought I was in over my head.

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4. Hallelujah Chorus

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble 1977

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

If you sang in a choir in high school, you sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. You had to. Every high school choir performed it. It was just as much a part of being in a choir as having the conductor bang on the piano when you were being a little too chatty or drinking hot tea with lemon and honey when you overworked your vocal cords.

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5. The First Noel

Sequoia Junior High School Boys' Senior Glee 1974-75

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

Your favorite holiday song can get you singing along. But how many songs can get you singing in harmony? “The First Noel” does that to me. Whenever I hear it, I instinctively sing the bass part. I can’t even sing the melody. Why? I blame that rite of passage every boy goes through — puberty.

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