Christmas with Dickens

The Seven Dials Band

Cassette only BEJO-10

This is a special Christmas edition of The Music of Dickens and his Time, created exclusively for Past Times and available only through them (see Shop). The festive selection includes seven tracks not found on the earlier Dickens album, viz:

Mr Fezziwig's Ball from 'A Christmas Carol'

The Song of Christmas
From a production by Edward Stirling of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol staged at the Theatre Royal Adelphi in 1844. Words by E. Fitzball; music by George Herbert Rodwell. Dickens attended several rehearsals and made ‘valuable suggestions’ according to Stirling. The novelist went to see the production on 20 February 1844.

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
A solitary youngster, ‘gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold’, sings this through Scrooge’s keyhole in A Christmas Carol (the child’s version, though, is ‘God bless you merry gentleman’).

Sally in Our Alley
Written by Henry Carey in 1729 this song was still a parlour favourite among the Victorians and its Christmas verse must have made it popular in many a seasonal gathering. Quilp refers to the song in The Old Curiosity Shop, asking Dick Swiveller, ‘What’s the matter... has Sally proved unkind? ‘Of all the girls that are so smart there’s none like -’ eh, Dick!’

The Star of Bethlehem
In A Christmas Tree published in Household Words (1850) Dickens writes of how the music of the Christmas waits summons the image of ‘some travellers, with eyes uplifted, following a star.’ The 19th-century carol Star of Bethlehem may have been in his mind - We Three Kings is too late a composition to fit the bill.

While Shepherds Watched
In the same passage, Dickens describes how the music of the waits conjures the picture of ‘an angel, speaking to a group of shepherds in a field.’ The image is likely to have been prompted by the widespread While Shepherds Watched which was sung in past times to many different tunes. The melody in our version is Lyngham, composed by Thomas Jarman in the early 19th century.

Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogine
A marvellously macabre ghost ballad from M.G. Lewis’s Gothic novel The Monk. Christmas was, by tradition, a time for supernatural tales. In The Holly Tree Inn from Dickens’s Christmas Stories the traveller snowed up in the inn warms himself by the fire, ‘looking up at the darkness beyond the screen, and at the wormy curtains creeping in and out, like the worms in the ballad of Alonzo the Brave.’ Our musical version was composed by Dr. Callcott in 1800.

Auld Lang Syne
Dickens frequently alludes to Robert Burns’s famous song in his writings (there are four references in David Copperfield alone).

Other Dickens links

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