When was the last time you heard famous Christmas carols on a pipe organ more than 100 years old?
We visited the historic East End United Methodist Church for a private concert with organ soloist Maeve Brophy. You’ll recognize these tunes that have been part of Christmas for centuries:
- Angels from the Realms of Glory
- Joy to the World
- What Child is This?
Historians differ on some of the details of this music. But here’s a little background:
Scottish journalist and poet James Montgomery wrote the Christmas poem on Christmas Eve, 1816 as he pondered the story of the heralding angels. It was later set to music composed by Henry Thomas Smart. The song debuted publicly on Christmas Day 1821, in a Moravian Church in England.
English Poet Isaac Watts wrote the poem as an adaptation of Psalm 98. The text first appeared in 1719 in The Psalms of David. George Frideric Handel composed the melody as part of his famous Messiah in 1741. Lowell Mason put music and poetry together and arranged the current version of Joy to the World in 1848
Insurance company manager William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics in 1865. They were first published in 1871. The popular Christmas carol was later set to the tune of “Greensleeves,” a traditional English folk song composed anonymously in 1580.
Special thanks to Rev. Judi Hoffman, who arranged our visit to the beautiful East End United Methodist Church on Holly St. in Nashville.
We hope you enjoy these videos produced by News 2 video journalist Garrett Arnold.