Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
This marks the last Friday night music feature before Christmas.
No reindeer accident.
No singing dogs.
No marching soldiers.
This week, beautiful music to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. It’s another musical Christmas card to you.
We open with an all-female Contemporary Christian music vocal group that started out as a quartet and is now a trio. They’ve sold more than 8 million recordings, have been nominated for three Grammy Awards and have won multiple Dove awards. Just a few college girls, they got together based on a desire to share their voices for the glory of God.
So close your eyes and share the dream
Let everyone on earth believe
The child was born, the stars shone bright
And love came down at Christmas time
Next up, Brazilian singer, guitarist, flugelhornist, percussionist, composer, music arranger and record producer, Nando Lauria.
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” means, in English, “Glory to God in the highest,” a phrase that played an important part of worship at church masses dating back to 130 A.D. During that period, Pope Telesphorus issued a decree that on the day of the Lord’s birth all churches should have special evening services. He also ordered that, at these masses, after the reading of certain Scripture or the conclusion of specific prayers, the congregation should always sing the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Historical church documents reveal that monks carried this executive order throughout the land and that by the third century it was a practice used by most churches at Christmas services.
Peter Buffett is the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Peter moved to Milwaukee in 1989 and lived two blocks away from the UW-Milwaukee campus. He recorded four albums on the Milwaukee-based label Narada Records.
“I played piano pretty much as soon as I could walk over to it and start hitting it,” Buffett said.
“I remember learning ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ at piano lessons when I was 5 or 6, and then coming home and being in a bad mood and playing ‘Yankee Doodle’ in a minor key,” he said. “Looking back, I go ‘wow,’ I was really trying to turn this thing around to express how I was feeling.”
Buffett composed the fire dance scene in Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning 1991 movie “Dances with Wolves.” Buffett scored the music for 1994’s “500 Nations,” an eight-hour CBS miniseries produced by Costner, and composed two songs for Demi Moore’s 1995 movie “The Scarlet Letter.”
What Child is this
Who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come Peasant, King to own Him
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
One of the most beautiful melodies in history, recorded by hundreds of soloists, choirs and orchestras is Johann Sebastian Bach’s memorable “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” The translated German lyrics go like this:
Well for me that I have Jesus,
O how strong I hold — to Him
That He might refresh my heart
when so sick and sad — am I.
Jesus have I, He who loves me,
He who takes me as — His own!
Ah, therefore I don’t leave Jesus,
lest I should break my heart.
Years ago when Hallmark would release an annual Christmas album in their stores a featured artist was Diana Ross. Also appearing on the album, the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet, noted for their delicate and sensitive treatments. The London Symphony Orchestra joins in.
A popular song at Christmas time in churches is “Dona Nobis Pacem,” that means ‘Grant Us Peace.’
The origin of the song is unknown. Some believe it was composed by Mozart. Most often the credit listed is simply “Traditional.”
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman has won two Grammy Awards, performed as a soloist with more than a hundred orchestras, and is a trained pastry chef.
That’s it for this week.
Have a beautiful Christmas weekend.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The original text, “Stille Nacht,” was written in German in 1816 by assistant preacher Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) in Mariapfarr, a small village in the Lungau region of present-day Austria. That’s according to a document written by Mohr himself which was not discovered until 1996. In 1817, when Mohr moved 100 kilometers to Oberndorf, a small village in the Salzach valley near Salzburg, he took the text with him.
Mohr, who was deeply commited to social issues, got to know the village school teacher and organist Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). They quickly discovered that they made a good team. Just before Christmas, they realized that the church organ no longer functioned. Years later, Gruber wrote that that was how the Christmas song came about.
“It was on December 24, 1818 that the then-assistant priest Mr. Josef Mohr at the newly established St. Nicolas parish in Oberndorf handed a poem over to substitute organist Franz Gruber, requesting a fitting melody for two solo voices without choir but with guitar accompaniment.”
The new song thus sounded out during midnight Mass on December 24, 1818 – in a humble Christmas atmosphere. Mohr sang tenor and Gruber sang bass, both accompanied on guitar.
New age musician Diane Arkenstone was trained as an opera singer. She ventured into several genres like punk, heavy metal, and folk music. Now her musical focus is Celtic.
She is married to American composer and performer David Arkenstone.