The Music of Christmas
Nothing unites people more at Christmas time than music, particularly the songs that celebrate the season. God's Greatest Hits - The Music of Christmas
features amazing performances from The Bills, Jacob Moon, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Ali Matthews, Ken Whiteley, The Northern Lights and others. This two episode set is perfect for the holiday season - includes the new Music of Christmas
and Silent Night: the Songs of Christmas
It is the world's most popular hymn, estimated to be performed over 10 million times annually. Its message of redemption and forgiveness touches the soul in a powerful way. In this episode Mahalia Jackson's influence is recognized, sixties icon Judy Collins discusses her role in its popularization, and the Blind Boys of Alabama perform a stirring yet unconventional rendition of this classic piece.
Silent Night: the Songs of Christmas
Perhaps no spiritual music touches us more deeply than the music we hear at Christmas. Silent Night
may be one of the most well-known: it was sung simultaneously in French, English, and German by troops during the Christmas truce of 1914, as it was one carol that soldiers on both sides knew. In this episode we hear it along with several other favorite seasonal songs performed by The Bills, The Sojourners, Tony McManus & Suzie Vinnick, and The Nathaniel Dett Chorale.
Many composers have interpreted this musical masterpiece over the centuries. In this episode the Franz Schubert and J. S. Bach/Charles Gounod versions are explored, along with a beautiful rendition by African American composer R. Nathaniel Dett and a newly created arrangement by composer Omar Daniel for string quartet and soprano. Features performances by Bobby McFerrin, the Cecilia String Quartet with Monica Whicher, and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.
Abide with Me
Inspired by the story of Jesus rising from the tomb, Abide with Me
was written by Henry Francis Lyte as he lay dying of tuberculosis - which may be why it is such a moving call for God's company. It has been recorded by a wide variety of artists and is sung prior to kickoff at every FA Cup Final. This episode features stunning performances by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the Priests, and the community of All Saints' Church in Brixham UK, the birthplace of the hymn.
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou My Vision
is a sixth century medieval hymn that was originally part of a monastic tradition. It is one of many beautiful hymns from Ireland, a nation with a strong Christian heritage. This episode features performances of this well-known song as well as Morning Has Broken
, What a Friend We Have in Jesus
, and An Irish Blessing
by musicians such as world-renowned Celtic guitarist Tony McManus, pianist Rick Wakeman, the Priests, and the Trinity Chapel Choir.
The British Invasion
England has produced many of the world's best-loved songs, including Rock of Ages
, penned by Reverend Augustus Toplady during a fierce storm in the Mendip Hills. Other songs from Britain featured in this episode include How Great Thou Art
and Will the Circle Be Unbroken
, with performances by the Menno Singers, Ken Whiteley, the University of Southampton Choral Scholars, Jacob Moon, and the Afiara String Quartet with Justin Bacchus.
Nearer My God to Thee
Said to be the last hymn performed by the band on the Titanic as it went down, Nearer My God to Thee
has given comfort to millions around the world. Many hymns have found a place on our coasts and oceans, including O God Our Help in Ages Past
, His Eye is on the Sparrow
, and Eternal Father, Strong to Save
. These songs and others are performed by the Bills, the University of Southampton Choral Scholars, and Ken Whiteley and Friends.
Songs of Freedom
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
is a "Song of the Century" as named by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is just one song from a rich, painful, and powerful tradition of music that emerged from slavery. This episode features songs such as Steal Away
, Go Down Moses
, Follow the Drinking Gourd
, and Gospel Train
performed by Eric and Leon Bibb, Dave Wall, Ken Whiteley, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Wade in the Water
Wade in the Water
was literally lifted out of Exodus in the Old Testament and became an anthem for African-American slaves. It is said to contain instructions for fugitive slaves seeking freedom. Made popular by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the late 1800s, it is performed in this episode by the current Singers, along with an a cappella version by Sweet Honey in the Rock and a blues version by Dione Taylor.
When the Saints Go Marching In
One of the most common songs played during the distinctive New Orleans jazz funeral march is When the Saints Go Marching In
. Originally sang as a church spiritual with imagery from the Book of Revelations, this song gained fame in the hands of Louis Armstrong. This episode features performances of When the Saints Go Marching In
, Blessed Assurance
, Down by the Riverside
, and This Little Light of Mine
by the Zion Harmonizers, Rebirth Brass Band, and Ken Whiteley and Friends.