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Season of Lights

Season of Lights CD

Season of Lights is our first album dedicated to the holiday season. Below is a short synopsis containing a little actual history of each song, along with some of our own stories behind the music, as well as some information about the instrumentation.


The Stories Behind The Songs


Huron Carol

"Huron Carol" (or "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime") is a Canadian Christmas hymn (Canada's oldest Christmas song), written probably in 1642 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada.  Brébeuf wrote the lyrics in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people; the song's original Huron title is "Jesous Ahatonhia" ("Jesus, he is born").
In the English version, Jesus is born in a "lodge of broken bark", and wrapped in a "robe of rabbit skin". He is surrounded by hunters instead of shepherds, and the Magi are portrayed as "chiefs from afar" that bring him "fox and beaver pelts" instead of the more familiar gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The hymn also uses a traditional Algonquian name, Gitchi Manitou, for God.
Annette Abbondanza- guitar(Taylor), synths (Roland and Korg), Powwow drum(Gilbert Lopez Drums), chimes

Marsha Harris- Native American flute key of “G” (Dana Ross - Falcon Flutes), mountain dulcimer (J C Bradshaw)

Listen to a short clip of "Huron Carol"

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Merry Gentlemen

"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is an English traditional Christmas carol written in the mid 18th century and published in 1833 by William B. Sandys, although the actual author is unknown.
There is some confusion today about the meaning of the first line, which is usually given today as "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", with a comma after the word "merry".  So the song does not refer to "merry gentlemen" as we have affectionately nicknamed it.   The word "rest" in those times actually meant "keep" or "make", and "merry" once meant "mighty."  In essence the song is saying God make you mighty, gentlemen.
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” was the most famous and most loved of all the early carols. Written with an upbeat melody and speaking of the birth of Jesus in joyful terms, as opposed to the very somber carols of the period, the song may have shocked early church leaders, but it charmed their flocks. Not only did they sing to this carol, they danced to it.
Annette Abbondanza- guitars, bass, synths, drums (LP), percussion

Marsha Harris- Native American flute key of “A” (Ray Wood, Island Flutes)

Listen to a short clip of "Merry Gentlemen"

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Bleak Midwinter

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner's Monthly for a Christmas poem. It was published posthumously in Rossetti's Poetic Works in 1904.The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst.  Harold Darke's anthem setting of 1909 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world's leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flute key of “A” (High Spirits Flutes), guitar, bass, synths
Marsha Harris- mountain dulcimer

Listen to a short clip of "Bleak Midwinter"

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Season of Lights

Written by Annette Abbondanza in 1998 after being inspired by the nighttime sky on a very clear and crisp winter solstice evening.
Annette's story behind the song: "I envisioned a parent and child, dressed in parkas and mukluks, standing up at the top of a snow covered ridge at nighttime.  On one side of the mountain, in the valley down below, the town is all aglow with lights, bells ringing, music, and people celebrating the season.  The other side of the mountain is uninhabited and dark, but the sky is all aglow with stars, and perhaps the Milky Way or Aurora Borealis.  Both are very different but equally beautiful sights to the small child.  I purposely selected a big flute and little flute of the same key to symbolize the parent and child".
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flutes key of “A”(High Spirits), piano, bass, synthesizers, bells

Marsha Harris- mountain dulcimer (Bob Magowan)

Listen to a short clip of "Season of Lights"

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We Three Kings

"We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the lyrics and the music. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns and Song in 1863.
Annette’s spin: I wanted to create an arrangement of this song that might reflect a more accurate visualization of it according to my interpretation of the story.  I visualized myself as a spectator watching a passing caravan of camels surrounded by an entourage of followers, servants and protectors of these three very important men.  I used various drums and guitar rhythms to symbolize the gait of camels, various ethnic instruments to represent their culture, and three different sized flutes to symbolize the three Magi themselves.
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flutes:  High “E” and midrange “B” (High Spirits), midrange “E” (Turtle mound Flutes), guitar, bass, synths, drums, percussion

Listen to a short clip of "We Three Kings"

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Holly and Ivy

"The Holly and the Ivy" is an English traditional Christmas carol. Holly and ivy have been the mainstay of English Christmas decoration for church use since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Holly, Ivy and other greenery such as Mistletoe, the most prominent green plants in British native woodland during the winter, were originally used in pre-Christian times to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival and ward off evil spirits and to celebrate new growth.

Annette’s spin: This carol was one of my mother’s favorites and it reminded me of her great love for all the plants and animals in the forest, and how she would walk hand in hand through the woods with me as a child and share her knowledge and love for nature with me.  Thus the nicknaming the song to reflect human names, and the large and small flutes used to record the song, symbolizing a mother and daughter.

Annette Abbondanza- Native American flutes: midrange “E” (Turtle mound Flutes),

high “E” (High Spirits Flutes), guitars, synths, bells

Listen to a short clip of "Holly and Ivy"

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I Saw Three Ships

"I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)" is a traditional and popular Christmas carol from England. The earliest printed version is from the 17th century, possibly Derbyshire, and was also published by William Sandys in 1833. The lyrics mention the ships sailing into Bethlehem, but the nearest body of water is the Dead Sea about 20 miles away. The reference to three ships is thought to originate in the three ships that bore the purported relics of the Biblical Magi to Cologne Cathedral in the 12th century.  Another possible reference is to Wenceslaus II, King of Bohemia, who bore a coat of arms 'Azure three galleys argent'.

Annette’s spin: I really was unsure what the actual meaning of the song was, but thought it sounded great as a Celtic tune.  I added a very Celtic sounding drum arrangement and three different sized flutes to symbolize the three ships sailing in and back out again.
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flutes:  High “D” (High Spirits), Low “D” (Island Flutes by Ray), midrange “E” (Turtle mound Flutes), guitars, synths, drums, percussion
Marsha Harris- mountain dulcimer, shaker

Listen to a short clip of "I Saw Three Ships"

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What Child Is This

 "What Child Is This?" is a popular Christmas carol written in 1865. At the age of twenty-nine, English writer William Chatterton Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months, during which he went into a deep depression.  Yet out of his near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including a poem entitled, "The Manger Throne," from which three stanzas were later culled, set to the traditional English tune "Greensleeves," and retitled as "What Child Is This?"

Annette’s spin: I intended for the song to start out very foreboding sounding, as if someone was coming upon a newborn child that was born in a barn.  My first reaction would be to think how very sad for this child to come into this world in this manner.  The author is asking “what child is this”?  And, the answer to the question is sung joyfully by angels.  The song quickly turns from foreboding to joyful, which is not such an easy task, but then eventually winds back down to a slight feeling of foreboding again at the very last note.


Annette Abbondanza- Native American flute key of “high D” (High Spirits Flutes),, guitars, synths, drums, percussion

Listen to a short clip of "What Child Is This"

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Bring A Torch

 "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" (French: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle) is a Christmas carol which originated from the Provence region of France in the 16th century. The song is usually notated in 3/8 time.  The carol was first published in 1553 in France, and was subsequently translated into English in the 18th century. The song was originally not a song to be sung at Christmas, but rather dance music for French nobility. It seems likely that the melody was written by Charpentier, derived from the air à boire Qu'ils sont doux, bouteille jolie from the now lost Le médecin malgré lui.

In the carol, visitors to the stable have to keep their voices down so the newborn can enjoy his dreams. To this day in the Provence region, children dress up as shepherds and milkmaids, carrying torches and candles to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, while singing the carol.

Annette Abbondanza- guitar, bass, synths

Marsha Harris- Native American flute key of “E"(Jon Norris), mountain dulcimer

Listen to a short clip of "Bring A Torch"

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Coventry Carol

  "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The author is unknown. The carol was performed in Coventry, England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play.
Annette’s spin: Every version of this song that I have ever heard has sounded very melancholy.  I selected my saddest sounding flute and used an effect that would make it sound like it was “hanging overhead”, much like a tearful mother sadly watching over her sleeping child.
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flute key of “E” (Turtle Mound Flutes), guitar, synths

Marsha Harris- mountain dulcimer, bowed dulcimer (Ken Bloom)

Listen to a short clip of "Coventry Carol"

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Silent Night

"Silent Night" (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Father Joseph Mohr for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas church in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. The song was sung simultaneously in French, English and German by troops during the Christmas truce of December 1914 in the First World War, as it was one carol that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.  The carol has been translated into approximately 140 languages.  It's now one of the most, if not the most, recorded songs in the world

Added effect: The beginning and ending of the song contains the actual recording of wind drifting snow on a very cold and wintry "silent night" near my home in Pennsylvania.
Annette Abbondanza- Native American flute key of “Bb” (Island Flutes by Ray Wood), guitar, synths

Marsha Harris- mountain dulcimer, bowed dulcimer

Listen to a short clip of "Silent Night"


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