Christmas Classics: The Story Behind 40 Favorite Carols by David McLaughlan

Christmas Classics: The Story Behind 40 Favorite Carols
David McLaughlan
Barbour (2010)
ISBN 9781602608368
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (10/10)


Like me, I’m sure most people that enjoy and sing Christmas carols don’t know how and when they originated. We just learn them and continue to sing over the years; so, when I had an opportunity to review “Christmas Classics: The Story Behind 40 Favorite Carols,” I jumped at the idea.  Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

One of my favorite carols is “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”  It was written by John Wesley Work, Jr., born in Nashville in 1871, who taught at FiskUniversity educating freed slaves and their children. “He is believed to have been the first African American collector of songs sung by American slaves.”  The song was published in 1907 and has been sung since.

Another of my favorites is “I Saw Three Ships.”  I didn’t understand the meaning of this song because ships can’t sail to Bethlehem, but I liked it because it is upbeat and catchy.  According to McLaughlan, this carol “may have had a deep, symbolic meaning that has been lost over the ages.”  It’s not much wonder it may have lost its meaning because it was first printed in 1666 in England.

I found this little book fun to read because I had a lot of “ahas.”  An interesting concept is that the book starts with carol number 40 and goes to number one.  My only complaint is that there is no index. I wanted to go back and re-read some of the information and ended up being frustrated trying to find the specific carol.

“Christmas Classics: The Story Behind 40 Favorite Carols” would make a great hostess gift during the holiday season.

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