By the time Halloween arrived this year, we were bombarded with Christmas commercials on television, stores that were decorated for the Holiday and announcements were made as to how early retailers will be opening on Thanksgiving Day. What happened to Halloween? What happened to Thanksgiving? What happened to Christmas shopping and advertising starting the day after Thanksgiving? OK, I’m giving away my age and my disgust at the consumerism that has become our Holiday season.
Writing this blog just two weeks before Thanksgiving, I remind myself of all the beautiful Christmas music that will flood the airwaves very shortly. Gorgeous secular tunes that remind us of how wonderful it will be to be home for Christmas, twelve days of Christmas with birds, dancers and golden rings for gifts and then, reindeer with red noses set a mood of crisp winter air. Carolers may appear at your door singing “O Holy Night” or “O Christmas Tree.” Our memories recall these words and melodies easily, no matter what our age.
In 1912, Arthur P. Schmidt published Gena Branscombe’s beautiful Christmas song, “Hail Ye Tyme of Holiedayes” with words by Kendall Banning. Yes, old English words were used to give a feeling of merry old England’s celebration of Chrystmasse. Recalling mistletoe, hollie, feastings, noblesses dressed in gold and songs of happiness, the poet and composer declare a tyme of peace, madrigals for halle and that Chrysten gentlefolke be reminded that Chryst will be with alle!
A bright, cheerful song filled with Gena’s usual zest for life, “Hail Ye Tyme of Holiedayes” became her best selling song earning her more royalty money than any of her other published compositions. Not only did she compose this as a solo song in a multitude of keys, her own Branscombe Choral performed it in an SSAA arrangement nearly every year on their Christmas concert at the Broadway Tabernacle Church. They also performed it for the commuters at Grand Central Station and Pennsylvania Station in New York. In addition, she arranged the song for SATB and men’s chorus. She covered all the bases of publishing this work for every possible musical need!
This Christmas song is performed during my one-woman show where Gena recalls her beloved Branscombe Choral’s lush, rich sound from the alto section!
A beautiful Christmas anthem not in the standard Holiedaye repertoire today, yet a song that clearly expresses Miss Branscombe’s old fashioned beliefs.
May all of our Holiedayes whether it be Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice or Kwanza be filled with peace, kindness, happiness and gentlefolke!