Friend @theflyingromana recently requested “menacing Christmas songs.” Since that is one of my favorite adjectives, here are mine.
We start with Jingle Bells by the Crash Test Dummies, which is Jingle Bells, but sung in a terrifying key by, apparently, a tribe of festive orcs, occasionally accenting their chant with a funeral bell. Incredibly menacing. Not Christian. https://youtu.be/__ZR8BeVS88?t=7m32s
There may still be some people on the planet who haven’t heard the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells, and today is their lucky day. I saw this performed live when I was a young person and there were pyrotechnics and I wandered around for days afterward like a bird that had flown into a window. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCabI3MdV9g Quite menacing. Not explicitly Christian.
There’s something about choral music in Latin that sounds particularly portentous and foreboding. Here, have Gaudete by the Choir of Clare College Cambridge: https://youtu.be/l1NgHonWNE0 Tense, like in a video game or fantasy movie, when something dreadful is about to jump out at you and go “blargh.” Technically Christian, but Latin doesn’t count.
Wintersmith album by Steeleye Span, a collaboration with Terry Pratchett. I don’t like any of these songs nearly as much as you’d think as I would, but: definitely menacing, definitely wintery, kind of folk-metal sound, some people might like it. The Dark Morris is fairly menacing. Not Christian, Discworld-inspired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXE47z3_71E
The Canadian Christian hymn Jesous Ahathonhia is not menacing as in the sense of “spooky,” but it has a wild and slightly eerie quality, when covered by the Sultans of String and Crystal Shawanda. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOs6ZH7Yoyk Tense. Extremely Christian. Related to that, the key and beat used in The Huron Carol (’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime) could be perceived as “menacing” if you’re used to European-influenced compositions. Here’s a Heather Dale cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6IG6F6E5Ac and one by the Prairie Rose Rangers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTlU2jO9VZI Again, tense and serious. Extremely Christian.
Coventry Carol is, again, more eerie and spooky than explicitly threatening. Christian lore includes a passage called the “Massacre of the Innocents,” in which King Herod orders the mass execution of male toddlers and babies, in an attempt to ensure that Baby Jesus is killed. The Coventry Carol takes the form of a lament sung by the parents as they say goodbye to their doomed children, so uhhhh that’s a bit dark! Here’s a nice arrangement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-x-zS9ex58 Eerie. Highly Christian.
Diese kalte Nacht by Faun is not about Christmas, but it’s in my winter playlist so there you go: https://youtu.be/zr8d9sXioj4 Before you ask, it’s NOT menacing because it’s in German, it’s menacing because of the FUCKING pipes. Not Christian.
A lot of people find Walking in the Air to be sentimental. I find it creepy. Throw it in there just in case you do too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb-pX7sIjFY Not Christian.
Dickens’ Dublin by Loreena McKennitt may mostly be menacing because you know that a dark fate is probably surrounding the child-narrator: https://youtu.be/cQNQRpxOHqo The child narrates a Christian story while Loreena sings a lament for its … possible… death?
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a nice menacing tune by Heather Dale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Fa1B7cAGE Heather positions Gawain as a pagan being tested by his deities, and the Green Knight as the Green Man. And yes, it’s Christmassy but not Christian! A good note to end on.
Hopefully you, too, now feel like a bird that flew into a window.
I reviewed a few of these. Always love for “Carol of the Bells”, any version but particularly Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and always love for Coventry Carol.
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