JF in 1979: Well, the arrangements are pretty good, but on the other hand there are more mistakes on this album than on any of the other 17 albums I’ve recorded. And yet, here’s the paradox…this album has not only sold more than any of my others, I meet people all the time who are crazy about it. I mean really love it. What can I say. I’m confused.

Barry Hansen [notes to Return of the Repressed says this album “has sold well into six figures”. Glenn Jones says it’s come close to going gold.

Joy To The World
First published 1839 under the title Antioch. Adapted by Lowell Mason from two pieces by Handel, Lift up your Heads and Comfort Ye my People.
What Child Is This?
The tune is Greensleeves, regarded in Britain as the very essence of Olde Englishe whimsy, and nothing to do with Christmas at all. Greensleeves is famously mentioned in The Merry Wives of Windsor by Willie the Shake (1597). Tune was probably first published in 1652 in A Book of New Lessons for the Cithern and Gittern (London).
The hymn was composed by W.C. Dix (1837-1898)
Medley: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful
An adaptation from a chorus in Mendelssohn’s Festgesang, which was composed for a festival in Leipzig held in June 1840 to celebrate the invention of printing. The later adaptation was by W H Cummings, organist, of Waltham Abbey, Essex (1856).
Tune composed by John F Wade of Douay, France (1844).
Auld Lang Syne
JF 1982: “It’s one of my favourite songs. I like to play it when I’m by myself, makes me feel real nostalgic. I put it on my Christmas record. It’s not a Christmas song but it’s the song I like the most. I just love it.”
The tune first appeard in an altered form in 1687 under the title The Duke of Bucclugh’s Tune. In subsequent years it was known by a variety of titles: The Miller’s Wedding, Sir Alexander Don’s Strathspey, The Lasses of the Ferry, Roger’s Farewell, I Fee’d a Man at Martinmas, and so forth. In 1783 it was used as the overture to the opera Rosina by William Shield. The words now commonly sung are commonly ascribed to Robert Burns. That view has been challenged by some authorities.
The Bells of St. Mary’s
Composed 1917 by Douglas Furber & A Emmett Adams.
Good King Wenceslas
Composer unknown. First published in Greisswald, Rostock, Germany in 1582. The well-known words were written in 1853 by the Rev. John Neale, an English cleric.
We Three Kings of Orient Are
By J H Hopkins Jr (1857)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Fantasy
Traditional. First printed in 1760.
The First Noel
Traditional. First printed 1833.
Christ’s Saints of God Fantasy
One of Fahey’s most obscure masterpieces, containing some of his loveliest and most delicate playing. The main theme is from All Sing a Song of Christ’s Saints of God by Hopkins. But unlike the rest of this album, this piece is largely a Fahey original.
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Using the American tune (the lyrics have a different, equally affecting, melody in Britain). Composed by R S Willis in 1850.
Go I Will Send Thee
The label says “Traditional Negro Christmas Spiritual”. Fahey has written elsewhere of the paucity of songs of Christmas in the African American tradition, and it is a point which calls for investigation.
From the version by Dennis Crumpton and Robert Summers, 1936.
Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming
Composed by Praetorius.
Silent Night, Holy Night
Composed by Franz Gruber, Austrian organist in 1818. The first appearance of a minor Fahey theme (in the introduction) which migrated to Delta Blues in 1978 and Snowflakes in 1989.