Friday, December 13, 2013

Three Carols, Story/Songs for Kids

These three carols have been sung and enjoyed for many years at Christmas time. Now, sisters Marcia Santore and Jessica Salinas have put together these old carols with some typical characters to bring the stories to life as they might be lived today.

Published by Forward Movement and available at, the first is a modern retelling of Good King Wenceslas. The story shows how today a man and his son could help someone who has lost his job and is now homeless, just as the king helped people in his day. Jessica tells the story while Marcia does the illustrations. There is the extra benefit of having a version of the carol that kids could play on the piano. Marcia’s husband Jonathan, who is a composer, joined in the project with his arrangement of this carol.

The Snow Lay on the Ground is another old carol that is fun to sing. From an English 19th century Christmas carol (author unknown), this is the story of the birth of Jesus. Probably no snow in Bethlehem, but children singing in England knew and expected snow at Christmas. The story is illustrated by Marcia with the same characters mentioned above as created by Jessica. The characters are typical of people from various cultural backgrounds as they act out the Christmas pageant together. The surprise on the back inside cover is a simple arrangement for piano by Jonathan that children may enjoy playing.

The third carol is In the Bleak Midwinter, originally from a Christmas poem by Christina Rossetti. Again the same characters, good friends by now, join together at one of their homes. Snow on snow on snow almost overwhelms them as they try to think of what gifts they would bring to the Christ Child, if they had opportunity. One of the children would bring a lamb, but each would “do his or her part....[deciding to] give him my heart.” Those children who still have music lessons at school will be pleased to find Jonathan’s double page arrangement for piano as well as a fingering chart and instructions for playing this carol on a recorder.

—Lois Sibley