With Christmas drawing nearer, I'd like to cut through the horrible holiday muzak that's inflicted upon us at every turn, and bring you a few selections that are far more musical, meditative and in the true spirit of the season.
To begin with, here's one of my favorite carols, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", the origins of which are lost in the mists of time. Elements date back to the first millennium and the great so-called "O Antiphons". Our first sample is an instrumental recording by The Piano Guys from their 2013 album, "A Family Christmas".
Here's a magnificent solo performance by the matchless Hayley Westenra, in Latin, with lyrics and translation provided. She brings out the essential prayerfulness of this carol, so different from the commercial dreck to which we've grown accustomed. She's accompanied by the Pavao Quartet. This song is from her 2009 album "Winter Magic".
Finally, for a more "commercial" rendition that still retains something of the spiritual flavor of the original, here's Mannheim Steamroller's version of the carol from their album "A Fresh Aire Christmas".