MATLOCK Luncheon Club’s December meeting was a very seasonal affair with festive hats and the tables brightly adorned we enjoyed a truly traditional Christmas Lunch.
Speaker for the day was James Mitchell, his topic was “The Stories behind Christmas Music”
James began by singing ‘Winter Wonderland’ as the assembled ladies joined in with gusto - maybe the glass of wine we enjoyed with our repast was having a lubricating effect on our voices!
We then learned about the customs and festivities of the Romans, Druids and Vikings.
Each subsequent Carol or Christmas song was given a vocal rendition by James – extending an invitation to the members to join in– followed by an explanation of how or where the song originated and stories connected to it.
The term ‘carol’ means dance song.
‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ was the song sung by the poor or below stairs staff to the rich in Manor Houses for gratuities,
We were challenged to identify the three ships in ‘I Saw Three Ships’ several possibilities were mooted- but the identity remains unclear, although the general theory that they are of carrying relics of the three wise men.
The ‘Boar’s Head Carol’ is still performed at Queen’s College Oxford where a boar with an orange in its mouth is carried in. James had been the soloist at this event and, as is the custom, the orange was later presented to him, however he did confess his reluctance to eat it after it had been in the boar’s mouth!
The custom dictates that while singing the verse people can move around but must remain quite still during the chorus.
As an example of how Christmas music can be so moving, James related that he had worked in Oxford prison as a music teacher and had witnessed hardened criminals reduced to tears when singing ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’.
The most popular Christmas song we were told was,‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ which was composed by Irvin Berlin for the film Holiday Inn.
James concluded with ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ The vote of thanks was by Mrs Pat Andrews expressing on the members behalf how much we had all enjoyed his visit.