I have a love of Christmas and Christmas carols, so when I received an opportunity to review The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs, I was excited to learn more about the origination of the carols. In this book, composer and professor Andrew Grant takes twenty-one different familiar Christmas carols and traces them back to their origins. Along the way, readers find out that the origins of the carols are tricky business. Many times carols arise from multiple variations and have multiple tunes and words, depending on where the caroler learned the tune.
I found this book to be elegantly written. It’s a true celebration of the carols and their evolution to the forms that we know today. I found it surprising to find out how some of the carols (like “O Christmas Tree”) originally had no connection to Christmas. I guess I think of the carols as springing up fully formed as if they have their own sort of divine revelation. So, this book was very interesting and gave me much to ponder.
When I originally received this book, I had big plans to use this as a Christmas unit study spine with my 10 year old. However, upon reading, I decided that the level of knowledge that he needed both with music (because some of it went over my head) and with the carols before really understanding the book was great enough that I felt that maybe he should wait for high school before we used this book. In the meantime, I’m tucking this little gem away for more use in the future.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.