An Ethnomusicologist’s Look at Holiday Songs – Part 2


Since we are full swing into the holiday season at this point, we’re ending the year with a couple of blogs that celebrate the season even as they educate.  This week, we’re sharing the story behind “Night of Silence”.  (Note:  This is our last blog the year; publication of blogs will resume on January 8, 2013.)

“Night of Silence” was written by Minnesotan Daniel Kantor (b. 1960).  Kantor earned his B.A. in  music from the then College of St. Thomas.  Kantor is something of a renaissance man in the true sense of the description:  he is an author, composer, musician, graphic designer and business strategist, as well as an entrepreneur.  Of his musical work, he is best known for this popular Christmas choral work.  First published in 1984, it remains one of the biggest selling Christmas octavos.  The composer says the text was inspired, in part, “by the northwoods of Wisconsin and the sparkle of freshly fallen snow in the moonlight of a sub-zero winter’s night.”  What is especially interesting about this work is that it can be sung simultaneously with “Silent Night.”  The publisher describes the effect of these two melodies coming together as being able to “make a group of average singers sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”   The work is popular with all ages and all ensembles.  The youtube recording link below features the San Diego Men’s Chorus in their annual concert from December 2008.  This recording is a special delight in that the singers also sign the song at one point as the piano takes over the musical duties.


America is blessed with a rich tradition of holiday music.  No matter our faith tradition, we are so very fortunate to have such a rich heritage of music as a part of our celebrations.  May you have a holiday filled with music! 


Author:  Susan Anderson-Benson, Center Program Manager

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