An Advent Carols Countdown

Stories behind the Most Beloved Music of Christmas

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Pub Date Sep 06 2022 | Archive Date Sep 20 2022

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Get in the Christmas spirit with this unique collection of the most beloved Christmas carols, from the warmly nostalgic to the majestically solemn and uplifting. The book features one carol for each day from December first to Christmas Eve, and presents both the lyrics and the fascinating stories and interesting facts behind the creation of the songs. Each entry deepens our understanding of the music and enhances our appreciation of why these songs are culturally important and dearly treasured.

From popular, familiar carols to lesser known but cherished hymns, author Michael D. Young combines his musical expertise with information specific to each song.

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written by an American preacher, Philip Brooks, after traveling to Bethlehem in 1868 to find peace after the horrors of the Civil War and assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Brooks’s original poem, with one largely unknown final verse, is included along with the lyrics of the beloved carol.

“In the Bleak Midwinter” was voted the best Christmas carol by a BBC survey of experts, but the song was actually created from a poem by Christina Rosetti and did not become a carol until decades after her death when it was paired with music by Gustav Holst. Today, Rosetti is considered one of the most important poets of the nineteenth century, and the carol she unintentionally penned is one of the most haunting and beloved of all time.

An Advent Carols Countdown is a beautiful gift book for the whole family to enjoy along with the music of the holidays. Each entry also features a QR code that will link to an audio or video performance of the carol performed by the choir most associated with Christmas, the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir.

Get in the Christmas spirit with this unique collection of the most beloved Christmas carols, from the warmly nostalgic to the majestically solemn and uplifting. The book features one carol for each...

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Featured Reviews

An Advent Carols Countdown: Stories behind the Most Beloved Music of Christmas by Michael D. Young is a wonderful book filled with Christmas Carols, their meanings, history, and all presented for any family to enjoy one day at a time during Advent. Just stunning.

This is such an amazing book. Each day of December gives the reader a Christmas Carol, its lyrics, its history, and a link to hear the carol itself.

I have heard, loved, and enjoyed each one of these songs, but one or two were lesser known to me in regards to their origins. I loved getting to know the beautiful history behind these songs.

This book is for adults, kids, families…really anyone that loves history and also Christmas. It will most definitely put any reader into the Christmas Spirit!

5/5 stars enthusiastically

Thank you NG and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 4/3/22 no BB listing has been created and link will be updated when it is available) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 9/6/22.

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I really enjoyed this book. I loved how it was an advent of Christmas carols for each day leading up to Christmas. I loved that there were carols I knew and some I didn’t. I also liked that there was a link allowing you to listen to what the song sounded like. I found it fascinating to read about the history of each of the songs. I thought this was a great resource to help families at Christmas time to learn a little bit more about the beloved songs we sing. I would highly recommend it.

I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, and or authors. A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

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Broken down into bite-sized chunks, designed to be done one per day for the Advent season, the book covers many popular and lesser-known carols, including lyrics and the stories behind the songs. About half the book features well-known carols, but the other half featured ones whose names I'd never even heard. The stories themselves were, mostly, interesting to hear. Each of the songs came with a link to listen to them performed live, too. This would be a book I went through with my family during one season and then passed on to another family to enjoy.

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I love this idea of having a carol countdown to Christmas. It’s always fun to find new traditions, especially ones that will help you and your family keep the spirit of Christmas alive in your hearts and minds all season long.

I really loved everything about this book. It’s nice to have the lyrics all in one place and to have such a variety of songs. There were several that I did not know. It was very helpful to have a link to watch/listen to a performance of the songs, in case you want to hear how it’s supposed to sound or to enjoy someone else singing it as well. Lastly, the history of the songs were very interesting and well researched. Some of these songs are quite old and we don’t think enough of who wrote them and where the inspiration or story behind these beloved songs came from. It can help you look at the carols with new eyes and a fresh appreciation for them when you understand a little bit more about them.

I think everyone would enjoy this book. Even if you didn’t get to focus on a song every day, it would be fun to peruse the carols and just pick a few to sing and focus on, to bring a special spirit and remembrance to the beloved Christmas season.

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Title: An Advent Carols Countdown: Stories Behind the Most Beloved Music of Christmas
Series: N/A
Author: Michael D. Young
Genre: Christmas, Christian
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Format: Hardcover
Pages: Unknown
Source: NetGalley
Cover: I love this cover because it reminds me of my very first Christmas Carol book given to me by my first piano teacher.

My Sketch …
From Dec. 1st to Dec. 24th, a Christmas carol lyric and a story per day of how the carol came to be. Each carol has a QR code linking to an audio or video performance of the carol performed by the Morman Tabernacle Choir. However, no music score is provided.

My Review …
While the title states “…Stories Behind the Most Beloved Music of Christmas”, personally I was disappointed that no musical notation was part of each Christmas Carol presentation since the briefing does include the tune history as well as the lyrics. The book summary (e.g. the description), which I encourage you to read, suggests An Advent Carols Countdown could be a gift. The only format is hardcover.

I thought many years ago such a book should be written and now it has been.
A few tidbits: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” always felt English to me yet it is a German hymn dating back to at least 1599. I haven’t sung “Masters in This Hall” since I was in high school mixed chorus. It is a simple carol; Mr. Young says the music is an old French dance. The book has a bibliography for each carol.

The Christmas Carols countdown from December 1st are:
1st – The Holly and the Ivy
2nd – O Little Town of Bethlehem
3rd – Angels We Have Heard on High
4th – Carol of the Bells
5th – Good King Wenceslas
6th – Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains
7th – O Holy Night
8th – Ding Dong! Merrily on High
9th – God Bless the Master
10th – In Dulci Jubilo (In Sweet Rejoicing)
11th – Joy to the World
12th – O Come, All Ye Faithful
13th – Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker (My Heart Always Wanders)
14th – Of the Father’s Love Begotten
15th – Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
16th – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
17th – Away in a Manger
18th – Angels from the Realms of Glory
19th – Masters in This Hall
20th – O du Fröhliche (O You Joyful)
21st – In the Bleak Midwinter
22nd – The First Noel
23rd – Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
24th – Stille Nacht (Silent Night)
Missing is a beautiful carol — “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.

A personal note from the reviewer …
I played my first Christmas carol when I was six years old. Granted it was only the melody but it’s a lovely memory. By nine I was playing Christmas Carols for our Baptist church & hoping “O Come All Ye Faithful” wasn’t planned as it had all those sharps (# ). Recently I was an organist/pianist for a Catholic parish and was surprised to learn that many of the carols listed above could *not* be sung or played during Advent. Any mention of the birth of Jesus — the Carol could not be used during Advent.

Rating: 3.5 stars rounded to 4 for websites using only round numbers. As a musician, a one-star reduction is due to the lack of music scores. I did not know three of the carols and would love to have seen the scores. In addition, why should people have to acquire the music score? Since there are some months before the pub date of 6 September, maybe music notation will be added.

I received a complimentary e-ARC copy of An Advent Carols Countdown via NetGalley from the publisher, Shadow Mountain Publishing. A positive review was not required; the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

#AnAdventCarolsCountdown #NetGalley #MichaelDYoung

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This is an advent book for counting down the days in December for Christmas. There is a Christmas Carol for each day some of which are very familiar and others that were new to me. The lyrics are given followed by one or two pages of information about he carol. Details of country of origin, the writer, time periods etc. I didn’t realize that most carols started out and were published as poetry and then sung to familiar tunes. I found it interesting that some carols are sung to different tunes in different countries while using the same words. In my digital copy of the book a link is provided that takes you to Youtube videos or audio recordings of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (previously called The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) performing the song. I’m not sure if the published version of the book will give the digital link or include a CD or DVD. I wish the music was provided in the book, especially for less familiar songs. But I understand that there might be copyright issues or other reasons that make that prohibitive. I think this is a unique and fun way to count down to Christmas. Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I love Christmas Carols, they are a huge part of our family's Christmas experience. I love the idea of having a different carol to learn about and listen to each day. I especially loved that there is a link for a recording of each song!

The stories were mostly interesting to me, but would not have held the interest of my children. I appreciated that there were carols included that I had never heard, but I feel there should have been more traditional carols as well.

Overall, this would be a book I want for my Christmas collection, but I don't know that I would use it daily during December.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, NetGalley, and Michael D. Young for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinions.

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Savor this one. I deliberately only allowed myself to read one carol's story per day so as to create the spirit of the title. It not only allowed me to fully take in the background and history shared but time to think about what I'd learned, too, in the midst of my everyday life. It was a complete delight.

Although some of the songs were unfamiliar to me, it didn't matter. Not only are the lyrics and background provided but there was a link to a performance of each song provided in the digital copy I read. In the process, I learned a great deal such as that "Angels We Have Heard On High" is considered a "macaronic" hymn in that the lyrics alternate between Latin and another language, and that "Carol of the Bells" origins are Ukrainian. Beginning life as a folk song basically celebrating winter, it was first performed at Kiev University in 1916 and seems to have made its first American appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1921. "Silent Night" was one of the songs performed by the Von Trapp Family of "Sound of Music" fame when they performed across Europe.

And, oh, so much more. These little details, connecting time periods and people of the times pop up throughout. There's sure to be something for everyone. Even the carols that weren't familiar to me had intriguing back stories, so I thoroughly enjoyed my read and listening to the songs via the links provided. For the more scholarly among us, there is an extensive bibliography provided at the end. Enjoy! I know I did.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #ShadowMountainPublishing for allowing me to tune into this celebration of Christmas. The ties to history and events were fascinating and, of course, what is Christmas without Christmas carols?

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This book is everything you want on your shelf during the holiday season. It has amazing facts and is beautifully done. I have already read it once, and know I will be reading it every year! This is great for kids and adults!

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I look forward to reading this book with my family this coming December. I enjoyed reading about the history of the so many familiar Christmas carols. There were a few carols I'd never heard of before. I liked how there were links to YouTube videos with quality performances of the songs. If you love Christmas music and history, then this is the book for you!

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Book + Christmas + Music = Gold!
I was so excited to receive this little book. It is everything that I love! There is a carol for each day of December to use as a countdown for Christmas. Each day you get the lyrics of a carol, a QR code to watch a musical performance of the song, and a short "About the Carol."
It's the perfect advent to enjoy with the family and I'm fully looking forward to using it this Christmas.

Watch out for this cute little book releasing in September!
Thank you @shadowmountainpub for the advanced copy.

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Hello!! An Advent Carols Countdown is simply lovely!! When I was little, in kindergarten, we made colored paper rings that we strung together to count down the days until Christmas. I have enjoyed various versions of this activity throughout the years. Christmas has always been a special time to me, and I absolutely love Christmas carols as well as history. The fact that this book combines lore of carols in a sweet way to help readers grow into Christmas is absolutely magical! The writing and description are so perfect and brilliantly done to bring Christmas to the reader as well as to evoke the holiday spirit each day of Advent (and put music into our hearts and minds each day). I was furnished with an ARC from NetGalley, and this is my honest review. Thank you! :)

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There seems to be an advent calendar for all sorts of tastes. It is refreshing for an advent book on carols to be published. An Advent Carols Countdown is paced for a chapter/song a day - using standard and lesser known carols. The author even offers possible composers when the authorship isn't clear and different theories as to a carol's exact meaning. The interesting historical information is accompanied by lyrics and QR codes for links to performances of each carol. Considering the length of time needed to use this book, this would be better served as an individual or gift purchase rather than a library acquisition.
Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing, author Michael D. Young and NetGalley for this ARC.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for my copy. I am grateful but my thoughts are my own.

It is hard to imagine Christmas without music. And the idea of spend Advent time with learning background origin stories about each Christmas Carol are interesting. The book provides lyrics for each Carol and link to music performances too. This book is suitable for all age readers and will become unique Christmas gift option.

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Some of my favorite things about Christmas are the songs, and this book is a great complement to them. It contains songs I know and love, songs I recognize but have different words, and songs I'm not familiar with at all. Each chapter contains a link where you can listen to a version of the song on the Internet, which was a delight--even when I read this book in July for the first time I had to find each online version and listen to the music. I am looking forward to the Christmas season when I can listen to a song a day until Christmas. I plan on using this book for years to come and making it part of my annual traditions right up there with watching A Christmas Carol.

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What a joy Michael D. Young's book 'An Advent Carols Countdown' is for me. It is wonderfully structured with embedded links that will launch the reader to performances of the highlighted song. I was appreciative of the immense research employed, especially as related to the carol 'O Come All Ye Faithful' that addressed the potential for the song to be attributed to an ancestor, John Reading. I will get copies for my grandchildren and I know it will become a Christmas classic for all.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions express in this review are entirely my own.

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I love Christmas carols, so I was excited to give this book a read. There were some carols that were unfamiliar to me--some of which I fell in love with after reading the lyrics and watching the videos linked to in the book, and others of which I might not ever listen to again--as well as more familiar ones. While I love secular Christmas songs as well, I really appreciated this collection's focus on religious songs; I think that makes it really wonderful way to focus on Christ as Christmas approaches. The musical performances the book links to (all but one performed by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square) were beautiful, although I wouldn't have minded if other groups or singers had been included as well, for variety's sake.
3.5 stars.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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This book would be great for Christmas hymn lovers everywhere. One song for each day of advent, the authors shares a brief history of the hymn's music and lyrics. Almost all of the carols in the book were familiar to me though there were a couple that I didn't recognize by name. I think there was only one of those that I didn't know even when I listened to it. Some carols might be considered more obscure compared to something like Silent Night but if you listen to a lot of sacred Christmas music, most of it will be commonly known I think.
Because each history is brief one can sit down and read through the entire book in a short period but it is designed to focus on one carol a day. Either way, I think most people will learn something new about the carols. I did.

*I received a complimentary ARC of this book through NetGalley and voluntarily chose to review it.

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Music is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I love the spirit songs bring, whether it's holy or fun. This book is full of wonderful carols to help lead up to Christmas day and bring the spirit of Christmas into your home. Many of the carols are popular and familiar, but there were some new ones to me as well. I loved reading the lyrics and listening to the performances. An added treat is then learning about the history behind the carol. I really enjoyed reading this and learning more about some of my favorite carols. I can't wait to use this book in December to count down to Christmas with my family.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Netgalley and this is my honest review.

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A musical countdown to Christmas. This will be a fun new Christmas tradition. Each day of December until Christmas, read a short chapter about a different carol. Then use the included QR code to listen to an audio recording or watch a video of the Tabernacle Choir singing that song. The chapters start with the lyrics, then tell background info and stories for each song. I thought it was interesting the author has a degree in music and is also a member of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

All my favorite Christmas songs were included along with a few others from around the world. I was surprised to learn some of the poems have verses not included in the song. This is one book that might be even better in a digital format because there is no need to scan the QR code. You could just tap the link to play the music. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC to use for my review.

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One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music. I loved the idea of a Christmas carol for each day leading up to Christmas. This would be such a fun thing to do as a family with young children. There were many songs in this book that I knew such as Joy to the World, O Come, All Ye Faithful, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing but also many that I'd never heard before like My Heart Always Wanders, Masters in This Hall, and In the Bleak Midwinter to name a few.

I love the cover as it reminds me of Victorian carolers. I liked that it was interactive and you could click (on my ebook copy) or scan a code to listen to the song. I really liked learning the history of each carol and the composer--it's very interesting reading. This would make a wonderful gift before the holidays and help make the days leading up to Christmas more meaningful .

I received a complimentary ebook copy from the publisher Shadow Mountain via NetGalley. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

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This book combined three of my favorite things - advent countdowns, music, and history. I appreciated the combination of lyrics (I find it helpful to read them without the music to understand their meaning), a link to listen (with beautifully selected recordings on YouTube), and information about the origins of the song's music and lyrics. Organized with one per day for the month of December leading up to Christmas, this book will add to your holiday celebration this year!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

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This one will have you dancing beneath the Christmas tree and under the mistletoe, with friends, family, and everyone in between. This lovely Christmas gem celebrates the most beloved and iconic Christmas carol, and features one carol for each day from December first to Christmas Eve, including not only the lyrics and beautiful illustrations, but also the fascinating stories and interesting facts behind each song. This one is not only exceedingly entertaining (mostly because I love all of the back stories of the songs and now have realized that I have had a large majority of lyrics wrong for the majority of my life), but is a great thing to look forward to every day with the little ones. This adds a whole new level of fun and anticipation to the always joyful Christmas Countdown and Advent Season. My personal favorite: Hark the Heralds Angels Sing (cue the tears at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life).

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This was lovely to read. I enjoyed the links to the music especially since I didn’t recognize a few of them.
I’m not sure how the physical book is set up, but the digital version was very easy to just click and hear the songs.
I loved the stories about each song and I especially enjoyed that most of the stories were brief so it wasn’t overwhelming to read in a short amount of time.
It would be fun to share with my children and help them appreciate the classic Christmas songs.
This would be a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves music.

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NetGalley thank you for this wonderful book. I’ve always wondered about the history of some of our Christmas songs. This book does a beautiful setup in an advent style to learn about some of our most beloved Christmas songs as well as some I haven’t heard. It even has links so you can hear them sung. It’s a perfect way to countdown to Christmas.

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