Carols for a Christmas Eve ~ Liner Notes
and Reviews

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for Carols for a Christmas Eve - Printable Lyrics

Just in time for Christmas orders!

Reviews of Carols for a Christmas Eve:

"Carols for a Christmas Eve [is a] a soothing and heartwarming collection of traditional favourites." Greg Quill, Toronto Star

"As usual, most of the Christmas CDs are more so-so than ho-ho, but for the winter winners, check out the following albums...Carols for a Christmas Eve (David Francey). Gather round the Victrola for a timeless take on sing-alongs, done gracefully by pianist Kathryn Briggs and Scottish-Canadian folk star David Francey. In the liner notes, Francey says he had a love for singing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing as a youth. Clearly, he still does. Brad Wheeler, the Globe and Mail

"'ll love this minimalist recording of David's favourite carols...designed to be sung along with. If you've been singing along for years on auto-pilot, without really thinking about the lyrics, this rendition will give you cause to really experience the meaning of the words to old chestnuts like Good King Wenceslas and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Penguin Eggs

"Have you ever spent a Christmas out on a farm, in a 100-year-old house filled with joy and good cheer, while the whole family warms themselves around the hearth as that musical uncle of yours sits at the piano and sings his way through a songbook of Christmas carols? ...the music would sound very much like this album does, with Francey's vocals accompanied by Kathryn Briggs's piano." Vue Weekly

Recorded with David's good friend Kathryn Briggs, at the Old Town Hall in Almonte, Ontario. Just voice and piano, Carols for a Christmas Eve has a simple elegance. Meant to be sung along to, the songs on this CD are no younger than 118 years old!

1. Good Christian Men Rejoice 2:14
2. O Come All Ye Faithful 3:00
3. Good King Wenceslas 3:10
4. Hark the Herald Angels Sing 3:06
5. Silent Night 4:04
6. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen 3:07
7. Angels We Have Heard on High 3:26
8. The First Noel 3:55
9. I Saw Three Ships 2:14
10. O Little Town of Bethlehem 4:08
11. We Three Kings 2:44
12. The Holly and the Ivy 2:50
13. Away in a Manger 2:39
14. Joy to the World 2:26

Liner Notes

When blue shadows lay long across freshly fallen snow, when the woodstove burns brightly and our beloved homemade ornaments are out of their box - this is the time of year I listen to some of my favourite music. This year I asked David to record his own album of Christmas carols - one I could sing along to while decorating the tree, baking cookies and wrapping presents. David and Kathryn made my wish come true. Beth

I grew up singing carols with friends and family at Christmas. When making my selections for Carols for a Christmas Eve I picked the carols I like the best and tried to sing them as the beautiful songs they are.

I have chosen to leave out some verses while repeating others. I did so with the best of intentions.

Carols for a Christmas Eve is purposefully uncomplicated, only piano and vocal, leaving space for you the listener to add your own voice. I hope you "Repeat the sounding joy" and sing along.

From my family to yours,
a very merry Christmas!

1 Good Christian Men Rejoice (Words attributed to Heinrich Suso (circa 1295-1366), translated by John Mason Neale, 1853)

It's a shame we only get to sing this song at Christmas time. The lyrics and tune are a celebration of life and reflect the joy of the season.

2 O Come All Ye Faithful (Words: "Adeste Fideles," Verses 1-4, John Francis Wade circa 1743, translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1841)

An unforgettable melody written to be sung by many voices.

3 Good King Wenceslas (Words by John Mason Neale 1853; Music traditional, published 1582)

A nice story about a good man. I love the narrative in this song, and while neither the Nativity nor Christmas is ever mentioned, it articulates the spirit of the season. Alive with kindness, compassion and good acts, Good King Wenceslas tells a perfect Christmas tale.

4 Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Words by Charles Wesley, 1739; Music by Felix Mendelssohn, 1840)

I like the way the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing builds steadily to the outpouring of joy in the refrain. I loved singing this one in choir.

5 Silent Night (Words adapted from the original German lyrics of Joseph Mohr and Music by Franz Gruber, 1818)

Gentleness and quietude simply stated. No wonder this is considered one of the most popular carols ever written. I love to hear this one sung in German.

6 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional, published in 1827)

Blessed with arguably the most beautiful refrain of all the carols, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is a grand song in its own right.

7 Angels We Have Heard on High (Words: Traditional French carol, first published 1855)

I remember singing Angels We Have Heard on High in church and hearing the volume rise at the approach of that remarkable descending chorus.

8 The First Noel (Traditional, written in the 13th or 14th century, first published in 1833)

This is another carol I remember singing from an early age. I have always taken pleasure in the sweetness of the melody.

9 I Saw Three Ships (Traditional, circa 1666)

Inclusive and optimistic but not without a touch of melancholy in the tune.

10 O Little Town of Bethlehem (Words by Phillip Brooks and Music by Lewis H. Redner, 1868)

This song stands apart, quietness in the midst of seasonal sound and celebration.

11 We Three Kings (Words and Music by John Henry Hopkins, 1857)

There is an eerie quality to this carol, centred on the mysterious journey of the Magi. I was always curious about their arrival at the stable.

12 The Holly and the Ivy (Words: Traditional, Music: Old French carol, thought to date back over 1000 years)

One of my son's favourites, so I wanted to include it in the collection. The Holly and the Ivy always sounded like a folk song to me.

13 Away in a Manger (Traditional, published in 1887)

This is the first carol I can remember singing. The simplicity of the lyrics reflects a child's view of Christmas, recalling for me a simpler time.

14 Joy to the World (Words by Isaac Watts, 1719; Music by Lowell Mason, 1839)

Joyous from start to finish, this carol is one of my favourites, best sung by a chorus of glad voices. I encourage you to find a place in the choir.


"I invited my good friend Kathryn Briggs to play piano on this album. I have always enjoyed her playing and company. Kathryn and I had a grand time arranging the songs and I thank her for bringing warmth, enthusiasm, humour and her splendid talent to the sessions." David

"Taking part in this project has been a thrill from the start. I took great pleasure writing the piano parts, imagining David's beautiful voice joining in. Being friends for as long as we have, rehearsals were way more fun than work. I hope the result of this collaboration will bring you as much joy as it has us." Kathryn

David Francey: Vocals
Kathryn Briggs: Piano

Vocal arrangements: David Francey
Piano arrangements: Kathryn Briggs

Produced by David Francey and Beth Girdler

Recorded and mixed and mastered by Ken Friesen at the Almonte Old Town Hall

Design by Ben Wolfe

Photos by Beth Girdler and David Francey
Cover photo: Beth Girdler

Copy editing by Kate Murphy

We invite you to visit

I thank my wife, Beth…I can hear her singing now.

Many thanks to Amy, Julia and Colin, thanks to my Ma Marion Francey, the Bishop family, and the Girdler family. Thank you to all those who are in our thoughts this season and in seasons past - for what is Christmas without children, family and friends?

Kathryn thanks Terry Tufts and Elizabeth Alice Blair Tufts for their support and encouragement.

Back Cover

Carols for a Christmas Eve was recorded at the historic Old Town Hall in Almonte, Ontario. David Francey's vocals are accompanied by Kathryn Briggs on piano.

Produced by David Francey and Beth Girdler

Lyrics for Carols for a Christmas Eve are available as a PDF download, and the Carols for a Christmas Eve songbook including the piano arrangements, is available for purchase at

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