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The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The Sounding Joy is a spirited collection of folk carols drawn from Ruth Crawford Seeger's 1953 songbook American Folk Songs for Christmas. Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell and a luminary list of her musical family, friends, and neighbors, this album celebrates the spirit of community and homespun traditions that existed in times before the commercialization of Christmas. Natalie Merchant, Aoife O'Donovan, John Sebastian, Dan Zanes, Happy Traum, and many others including special guest Peggy Seeger all add their voices to pay tribute to a collection revered in the canon of American music.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 15, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B00EBDXUYU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,045 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
How many times have I longed to rediscover the Christmas of my childhood, of my mother's childhood. Here it is. Filled with beautiful simplicity and joy, this is the antidote to all things overwhelming that have overridden the Christmas season.

Please, do yourself and any/all children in your life a huge favor - get this CD and fill your home w/the sounds of earthly angels singing the celestial song of Christ's birth.

It may just inspire you to - finally - lay down the burden of the commercial strain that too many of us now believe is Christmas, and bring back the tender joy that's inherent in the birth of our new born King - our Savior. Bake some gingerbread, share a cup of tea, place some greens around the house, light a candle and love the people given to us to love.
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This treasure trove of Christmas songs based on the work of Ruth Crawford Seeger is a true delight. Diverse selections mix rarely heard songs with chestnuts, but each beautiful and fresh in its own way. Fans of Elizabeth Mitchell already know the warmth and sincerity which comes through her music to a child's heart, but this four year project allows many of Woodstock's finest to share the spotlight. The insightful liner notes by Natalie Merchant, Dan Littleton and Liz confirm and embellished my appreciation of Seeger's work as well as this extended family of musicians. There is an air of spare intimacy and authenticity, musicianship and soulfulness which takes one into the Spirit of the season.
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I've liked other Elizabeth Mitchell CDs. They're a hit with my 4-year-old daughter, who will listen to anything with "ladies singing." I myself like this album for many reasons, but here are the two biggies.
1) Most of these are songs I'd never heard before. At Christmas time, with its happy standards, I tend to crave something new.
2) Most of the songs are about religious themes. Now, I do like secular Christmas songs, but I also believe in religious Christmas, so I like to hear songs about Jesus, too. They're not preachy or churchy songs, but certainly won't find their way into a non-religious "holiday" pageant. The songs about Mary are my favorites. That may be a turn-off for you, but I like it.

The songs are different, the voices are good, and some of the arrangements of classics are neat, especially "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." I recommend this album highly.
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I have been mildly obsessed with Christmas carols since childhood, and have collected many albums over the years. This one is hands down the best one I have ever heard. Ever. I don't think I will ever tire of listening to it.
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If you are thinking because of the long name and Smithson in the notes this is another boring folk collection of boring old folk songs - think again. There are several reasons to give this a listen. 1) some rarely used Christmas carols/songs that I remember but don't get much treatment like "Rise up Shepherds..." and "Children Go Where I send thee.. " etc.. in good folk treatment 2) Refreshing variety of styles including some more wide open gospel arrangements (including Amy Helm and members of Ollabelle). and 3) Natalie Merchant - one of the songs is sung by Merchant who has that great memorable voice and style from 10,000 Maniacs, etc.. Give it a listen.
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Format: Audio CD
I love this album for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is lovely. The music is heavenly and soothing. I love Elizabeth Mitchell and the many friends she has gathered here. I find some of the music very powerful. Second, it is my Mom's favorite album. She has been through terrible times this year, but this album always calms her and brings her a bit of peace. I will always love it for that. We listen to it often, but especially when my Mom is feeling distressed or confused. It's like medicine, a compass of sorts. After my Mom has left this world and gone to the next, I will cherish this recording.
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There is so much talent and love poured into these songs. The care taken in making music beautiful and meaningful are second to none. This is 'home' music of the highest quality. This is the soundtrack of peace and joy for all ages.
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By jcar3cats on February 11, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
the voices seem very natural, sincere, and cheerful, yet there is complexity in the arrangement. The pieces are familiar, with no startling innovation, and yet they seem fresh and new. Listening to this disc is an uplifting pleasure.
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