‘Tis the season to be singing, and over at Music Express Online we’ve been getting in the Christmas mood. We’ve added a host of new Christmas songs, including 10 of our favourite Christmas carols. You can see the full range in our Christmas playlist here: https://www.musicexpress.co.uk/christmas-songs
Our favourites are ‘When Santa got stuck up the chimney’ and ‘In the bleak midwinter’. We’ll be having great fun singing along to our Christmas playlist this month and we hope that these songs will get your classes singing too.
To make teaching the songs easier, we’ve provided performance tracks with example verses and backing tracks of the full song. The videos have rolling lyrics, which you can choose to display line by line or a verse at a time.
We learnt a lot about these carols while creating the videos. Good King Wenceslas is based on the historical figure Wenceslas I, the Duke of Bohemia in the 10th century. He became a Duke at the young age of 14, after his father passed away. His Pagan mother acted as Regent until he came of age. Meanwhile, his Christian grandmother, the Czech Saint Ludmila, raised him. She smuggled priests into the house to ensure that he was raised a Christian. It is possible that his mother, disapproving of this upbringing, had Ludmila banished and murdered.
Wenceslas became Duke in his own right at the age of 18. His successful reign saw the Dukedom of Bohemia defended against a number of invasions, as well as the creation of both an education system and law and order systems. His reign, however, was short lived as he was murdered in c.935 by three friends of his own brother, Boroslav. Wenceslas has been viewed as a saint ever since his death. Miracles were reported at the site of his death, and he is now patron saint of the Czech Republic. His Saint’s day (September 28th) is celebrated there as a public holiday and his remains lie in St. Vitus’s Cathedral, Prague.
The story in the carol, of Wenceslas and his knave taking food and wood to the peasant he sees out of the window, is almost certainly not true. It is, however, considered true that Wenceslas was a wise and kind king. Despite being a Christmas carol, the only link it has to Christmas is that St. Stephens’ day (referenced in the first line of the song) is on December 26th, Boxing Day. It does, however, also teach us that Christmas is a time to be kind to those less fortunate than us. So, let’s all get in the Christmas spirit and spare a thought for those who are alone or suffering this year. If nothing else we can spread some cheer through song!
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all of us at Music Express Online!
Sign up for access to all teaching resources and songs on Music Express Online here.