Favourite Newfoundland Christmas Music


One of my favourite things about the land up to the holidays is the chance to break out the Christmas music.  

There are a lot of great seasonal songs and it's fun to re-discover them each year. 

I'm a big fan of traditional Christmas music, I love to hear a modern rendition of a 300 year old carol but, occasionally, a brand new composition comes to my attention and dominates my Christmas listening. Newfoundland's musicians have been holding their own in both regards.

Here are a few of my Christmas favourites -- some are classics, some are originals, all are amazing and performed by artists from Newfoundland.


Carry Me Home, Hey Rosetta!


Carry Me Home by Hey Rosetta! is exactly the sort of Christmas song you'd expect from the band.  Even though it explores the familiar 'there's no place like home for the holidays' trope, it does so in a thoughtful and memorable way without ever venturing into the maudlin.   It appeared on their 2012 EP A Cup of Kindness Yet.

Serving Girl's Holiday, Matthew Byrne


Matthew Byrne's Serving Girl's Holiday from his 2015 EP Sing Through The Heaven and Skies has been in my Christmas rotation since its release.  I don't know too much about its origins except that it is old (translated Middle English old) and that Byrne's rendition leave out references to a holiday tryst that can be found in early versions of the text.


The Light In Your Window, The Once


I don't like to play favourites but, if pressed to choose, my ultimate contemporary Christmas song may be The Light in your Window by The Once.  It is another of those Christmas songs about longing to be home but with a bit of a twist -- it's also about wanting to be wanted when you get there. It's powerful, it's wistful and oh so sing-along-able. The song appears on their This is a Christmas Album by The Once. Gotta love clarity in titling.


The Cherry Tree Carol, Anita Best & Pamela Morgan


There are many versions of The Cherry Tree Carol. Apparently, it's been sung since the fifteenth century so it has had some time to evolve.  My favourite version is this one by Anita Best and Pamela Morgan.  You can find it on the Amber Christmas collection.

The song tells the story of Mary and Joseph walking through a cherry orchard.  Mary asks Joseph to pick her some cherries. Joseph spitefully declines suggesting that the father of Mary's child might want to provide for her.  I think one of the reasons I like this carol is that it paints a picture of Joseph as having difficulty with the whole... umm... situation.

It's a moment of relatability in a tale that is not wholly relatable.

On a non-Newfoundland note, I love The New Pornographer's Joseph, Who Understood for similar reasons.


The Coventry Carol, RASA


As mentioned, I have a soft spot for classic Christmas songs, and by classic I mean songs so old that no one is sure how they came about. The final track I'm offering today is another one of those -- The Coventry Carol.
 
The Coventry Carol can be traced back to at least the sixteenth century and has been sung to various melodies.  To say it's a sombre song might be an understatement -- it's delivered as a lullaby sung by the mothers of children to be killed by King Herrod (Massacre of the Innocents). It's sad and haunting.

I first encountered it as a kid on the A Very Special Christmas album.  It was sung by Alison Moyet (of Yazoo). I'm still quite fond of that rendition but the version by RASA (from Avondale Music's The Christmas Wish 2 album) has eclipsed it.
 
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This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, in fact I have a lengthier one you can check out on YouTube and Apple Music.




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