Fourteen members of the Tuesday Study Club were present at the Dec. 18 meeting in the home of Myrna Eppeland. The ladies enjoyed a lunch prepared by Myrna Eppeland and Clarice Fastenau.
Clarice and Myrna presented the program, “The History of Christmas and Christmas Music.” Many of our Christmas traditions go back to early pagan festivals celebrated at the time of the winter solstice (about December 22).
These festivals were enjoyed long before the birth of Christ. The use of evergreen boughs, garlands, and wreaths; the burning of candles and Yule logs; giving of gifts; dancing; and feasting were part of these celebrations.
Early church officials took the date of one of these pagan celebrations, December 25th, and designated it as the birthday of Christ because they wanted a Christian festival to substitute for the pagan ones.
The music back in these early days was mostly sung poetry or chanting. Aulos (something like flutes) and lyres (something like harps) have been used since very early times.
As early as 130 A.D. the angels’ song, “Glory to God in the highest” was sung in churches.
The monks memorized all the chants that they used until about 800 A.D. when musical notation was developed.
The word “carol” originally meant a musical dance, but later its meaning changed to mean a joyful religious song.
One of the most popular carols is “Silent Night,” composed and first sung by Pastor Joseph Mohr and Organist Franz Gruber to guitar accompaniment because the organ was broken in their small village church in Austria.
The tune for “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” came from a song written by Felix Mendelssohn to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the printing press in 1840 in Leipzig, Germany. It was set to religious words in 1855.
The program included the histories of many well-known carols and concluded with two Christmas duets played by Myrna and Clarice.
The next meeting will be held January 15 at the home of Carol Paulson. Jean Bruton will present the program.