Romanian Christmas Carols
Electrechord, ST-EXE 01971, vinyl LP, recorded 1982) is a selection of 16 carols performed by soloists and the Choir of the Romanian Patriarchate, led by the Reverend Iulian Carstoiu.
The annotator Valeriu Anania writes: “Romanian Christmas carols are deeply rooted into the soul of a nation who not only created them but also experiences them within its intimate nature, handing them down from generation to generation, mainly through the voices of children. Unlike those of some other peoples, these are not family festive songs but a message extended by the members of a Christian group to their own community.”
Romania and a few other countries in Eastern Europe commemorate church holidays more often than here in the states; the singing, lighting of candles and other reverent practices are the very stuff of life in its long history of oppression by internal and outside totalitarian forces. Translations of titles convey the special yuletide awe – Great Wonder; Holy Mother Stepping Down; In a Land of Flowers; Downhill at Bethlehem; Lord O Little Lord from Heaven; and Well-Wishing Blossom Bough.
The singing is sublime. Highly recommended, despite the language barrier, as a refreshing change from the usual Deck the Halls Stale Holly, etc.
* * * * * *
Wintry Christmas imagery from the superb English poet Christina Rosetti (1830-1894):
“Lord God of all things
Be they near or far,
Be they high or low;
Lord of storm and snow.
Angel and star.”
When not writing poetry, Christina Rosetti reached out to unwed mothers, women in prison and prostitutes in her good works, and friendship. When her oldest brother, the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti (1828-1882) took ill for several years before he died, she and other siblings moved into the same house and were his caregivers.
She was a small woman and would sit quietly at social occasions. However, she did once stand up, stated, “I am Christina Rosetti – a poet!” and then sat down again.
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