Somehow I wound up with several new Christmas CD’s during the holidays and I suppose I could put them aside until next December rolls around or I could just go ahead and talk about them now.
Oh, why wait?
This one is from a very famous choir, Thomanerchor Leipzig, and it’s titled Weihnachtssingen der Thomaner, which just means Christmas With the Boy Choristers of St Thomas.
The good thing is that with only a couple of exceptions these songs are not particularly Christmasy to me. The titles and lyrics are in German so the only ones I recognize are Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht and In Dulci Jubilo (oh, I suppose that one is in Latin). The other songs have titles like Macht Hoch Die Tur by Max Reger, Ubers Gebirg Maria Geht by Johann Eccard, and Aus Hartem Weh Op.7a by Willy Sendt.
I don’t “sprechen sie Deutsch” but I get the feeling that none of those are translations of Jingle Bell Rock so I can’t really say much about the songs except that they are really pretty.
The first piece and the last, Gelaut Der Thomaskirche Zu Leipzig, consist of the warm tones of the bells of St. Thomas church. Very nice.
The boys and young men sing without accompaniment, and they sound great. Interestingly, there are three numbers that are organ only without voices, and they are also very pretty.
There are 23 songs but at a total time of 49 minutes the CD is over too quickly.
Thomanerchor Leipzig has been around for almost 800 years. They were closely associated with Johann Sebastian Bach but had been in existance for a long time when Bach came along as music director. In the year 1212 Otto IV confirmed the foundation of an Augustiner monastery dedicated to St.Thomas. The monastery included a school to prepare youngsters for a clerical career, to which boys from outside the monastery were also admitted. From the beginning, singing for the liturgy was part of the education.
In the last century alone, the school has survived two World Wars, and the Communist regime, which permitted many of its ancient traditions to continue, unbroken.
The children get up at six in the morning, have several hours of choir practice every day, as well as individual singing and instrumental lessons and, of course, ordinary school lessons. For concerts they always dress in the tradition dark-blue sailor-style uniforms.
I love this bit from BCSD, “Scruffiness is strictly prohibited. The smaller boys are inspected to make sure that their fingernails are not dirty and nothing is bulging out of their pockets.”