The books I didn’t quite get to in 2012

I think this post is going to become an annual event! Compiling it certainly encourages me to stop buying books for a while in the New Year. Every year I make the same resolution & my best effort was three months without buying a single book. After such abstinence, it was quite hard to get back in the habit of buying, but I managed it eventually! It is quite a good feeling, especially when I know I have so many lovely books on the tbr shelves – not to mention on the e-reader & at the library. It did lead to my wishlists at various bookshop websites getting longer, but that’s a great way to remember what I want.

So, here’s my list of books that I was desperate to read when I ordered them & was determined to drop everything as soon as they arrived on the doorstep & read them first. Only, I didn’t & they’re still sitting patiently on the tbr shelves waiting their turn.

Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins had so many enthusiastic reviews from Desperate Reader & Book Snob, among other respected bloggers & friends & it’s a Persephone so what was I waiting for?

The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield Fisher was recommended in my online bookgroup by Diana, Austen devotee & writer of the lovely blog, Light, Bright and Sparkling. In a flash, I’d ordered it & was determined to drop everything when it arrived, but I didn’t, as you can see.

The first two volumes of Agnes & Elizabeth Strickland’s Lives of the Queens of England was eagerly awaited & then completely ignored.

Desperate Reader’s review of Arabella Boxer’s Book of English Food only confirmed the fact that I’d been right to order it. It’s been sitting by my reading chair ever since it arrived & I’m only halfway through the Introduction.

I seem to be collecting books about Jane Austen (I have two more on the way) but not actually reading them. Maggie Lane’s Understanding Austen is one of these. Hopefully with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice coming up this year, I’ll be inspired to read this.

I read a lot of books by Dickens & a few books about Dickens in his Bicentenary year – but this wasn’t one of them. I love letters & I hope to get to the Selected Letters edited by Jenny Hartley sooner rather than later.

Shamefully, I read no Elizabeth Taylor in her Centenary year although I enjoyed reading lots of reviews of her novels around the blogosphere. At least I’ve read quite a lot of her novels, just not in 2012. I couldn’t resist her Complete Short Stories published by Virago & introduced by her daughter, Joanna Kingham, & even though Harriet reviewed it glowingly here, it’s got no further than the Virago shelf of the tbr shelves.

Sylvia Townsend Warner is another writer that I want to read more of. Simon reviewed this volume of her Selected Writings called With the Hunted & I was keen to read it, especially the section on Jane Austen (see above). I don’t promise to read the whole book this year but I will at least read Sylvia’s thoughts on Jane. I can console myself with the thought that Simon hasn’t read it all either – or, at least, he hadn’t when he reviewed it in August.

Well, there you have this year’s list. Writing a post like this does spur me on to read the books. Last year, I read all but two of the books in the 2011 list.

Happy New Year to everyone. Here’s to a happy, healthy year with lots of reading – & a bit less book buying!

Top Ten Books of 2012

Here’s my list of the best books I read in 2012. No rereads & I’ve cheated a little by including two series & lumping two books by the one author together. There is no order to the list & it’s a mixture of Fiction & Non Fiction. Follow the links to my reviews.

In the year of the Bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, it was inevitable that I would read something by the great man. I read the last two of his novels that I had never read before, Barnaby Rudge & Martin Chuzzlewit. Put off by the stodgy names & reputation for unreadability, I was surprised at how much I loved both books. Knowing very little about the plots was also an advantage. I was eager to find out what happened to everyone. I also reread Great Expectations, The Mystery of Edwin Drood & A Christmas Carol.

Staying with Dickens, Michael Slater’s The Great Charles Dickens Scandal was much-anticipated & didn’t disappoint. A drily witty, succinct account of the lengths that Dickens went to to hide his relationship with Nelly Ternan & the efforts everyone else has gone to ever since to find out what really happened.

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard was the most harrowing book I’ve ever read. The story of Scott’s last expedition to find the South Pole, this is a beautifully-written account of hardship & determination by one who was there.

Almost as harrowing was Germinal by Emile Zola. Like all Zola’s novels, this is an absorbing journey into the lives of the working people of 19th century France. The scenes in the mines are unforgettable & chilling in their horror.

I’m including a couple of series in my Top 10 because I can’t choose just one book & I read them as a whole so it’s easier to just nominate all of them. Bloomsbury have re-released many of Ann Bridge’s novels as POD paperbacks & e-books. I loved the Julia Probyn series which I started last year & finished reading in August with Julia in Ireland. Julia is a female James Bond – beautiful, intelligent, well-connected & resourceful. I loved her adventures, set in exotic locations in Europe such as Emergency in the Pyrenees.

Martin Edwards has also benefited from the e-book revolution. After being out of print for some years, his Harry Devlin series is now available in paperback or as e-books. I’ve read the first two books, All the Lonely People & Suspicious Minds, & I have the third downloaded & ready to go. Harry is a lawyer in 1990s Liverpool & the atmosphere of the city & Harry’s dogged pursuit of justice make the series compelling reading. Harry’s adventures will keep me happy while I wait for the next Lake District mystery, The Frozen Shroud, to be published next year.

Catherine Aird’s standalone novel, A Most Contagious Game, was a delight with its echoes of Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. I loved the way that research was still done in libraries & newspaper archives (it was first published in 1967) & the historical aspect to the modern-day mystery was fascinating.

More history in Linda Gillard’s The Glass Guardian. The legacy of WWI combined with a romantic ghost story set in wintry modern-day Skye was the most all-consuming reading experience I had this year. I read it virtually in one sitting, just wonderful.

I read very little historical fiction these days but Hilary Mantel is the exception. Bring Up The Bodies continues the story of Thomas Cromwell begun in Wolf Hall & brilliantly retells the story of the fall of Anne Boleyn. We all know how the story ends but this novel read like a thriller. An amazing achievement.

Queen Victoria’s Letters to her daughter Vicky, Empress of Germany are touching, opinionated, gossipy & compelling. Vicky left England when she was only 17 & the letters selected here cover history, politics & family matters. The Folio Society edition is also beautifully produced with some gorgeous plates as well.

Well, that’s it for 2012. I’m looking forward to plenty of good reading in 2013 & will be back in a couple of days with some thoughts about reading plans for the year. Happy New Year!

Sunday Poetry – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I’ve been thinking about Tennyson (picture from here) lately. He’s not a poet I’ve read much of but he’s always been there in the background of my reading. In the wonderful photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron, in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites that took his poetry for inspiration & in the reminiscences of the great & good of Victorian England. A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting review of a new biography of Tennyson &, of course, it mentioned In Memoriam, his most famous work, written in response to the death of his great friend, Arthur Hallam. It sent me off to the bookshelves to look up the poem & while I was reading bits & pieces of it, I came across this lovely poem, so appropriate for the New Year.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light;
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
   For those that here we see no more,
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Conundrums for the Long Week-end – Robert Kuhn McGregor with Ethan Lewis

… the fictional history of Peter Wimsey has become emblematic of its time. Unlike practically any of the other famous fictional detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey’s career was fully defined by a single epoch. He came to life as the long week-end began in the wake of the Great War; he disappeared as World War II sealed the week-end’s close.

The subtitle of this book is England, Dorothy L Sayers & Lord Peter Wimsey. The authors have combined literary criticism & social history to place Peter Wimsey & Dorothy L Sayers in the England of the interwar period. As Sayers is my favourite Golden Age detective novelist, this book was always going to appeal to me. It was written in 2000 & I’m almost sure I read it back then. However, seeing it in a recommended list of e-books on Amazon was enough to inspire me to download it & read it again over the last few days.

McGregor & Lewis have looked at the life of Dorothy L Sayers & tell the story of how she came to write the Wimsey books. At first, she wrote them for the money. She was an avid reader of detective stories & thrillers & throughout the series she makes some quite pointed comments about other writers. She was also unhappy in her personal life with several frustrating & unfulfilling relationships & the birth of her illegitimate son, John Anthony. She kept her son’s existence a secret from almost everyone & especially her parents. She worked as a teacher &, more famously, at Benson’s advertising agency, until the success of the Wimsey novels enabled her to concentrate on her writing.

The other focus of the book is the political & social history of the period between the wars. Famously called The Long Week-end by Robert Graves & Alan Hodge in their book of this name, McGregor & Lewis trace the preoccupations of Sayers & her world in the themes & settings of the novels. Each chapter begins with an overview of the political & social situation in England & Europe & then the discussion moves on to Sayers’s life & the novels she was working on. This certainly focuses the reader on the topicality of many of the plots & social settings of the books, especially the far-reaching impact of the Great War on England. Peter Wimsey suffered from shell-shock & the after-effects of this are evident in the early books of the series. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club begins on Armistice Day & features several characters who have been damaged by their war service. Have His Carcase is set at Wilvercombe, a watering place where middle-aged women fall in love with gigolos & the agricultural slump leads to the commission of a horrible murder.

Sayers had an intellectual interest in the writing of detective fiction & wrote Introductions to several collections of stories by the best-known authors in the genre. She especially acknowledged the influence of Wilkie Collins & Sheridan LeFanu, the 19th century writers who paved the way for Conan Doyle, Edgar Wallace & the Golden Age writers. As a graduate of Oxford, Sayers was also interested in the role of women in society & her creation of Harriet Vane, detective novelist, accused murderer & the woman Peter Wimsey wants to marry, allows her to explore this theme. Through Harriet, Sayers is able to discuss the writing of detective fiction as well as provide a compelling portrait of a professional woman. My favourite novel in the series, Gaudy Night, is the least conventional as a detective novel. Set mainly in a women’s college at Oxford, Harriet takes centre stage as she tries to discover the identity of a malicious poison pen. Discussions about the place of women in society & the importance of the intellectual life are just as important as the detection.

The final book about Peter & Harriet, Busman’s Honeymoon, started life as a play &, apart from the beginning of a novel, Thrones, Dominations (later finished by Jill Paton Walsh in 1998) & a few short stories written during WWII, that was the end of the story. McGregor & Lewis examine the reasons behind Sayers’s decision to abandon this unfinished novel. Apart from having finally married off her two leading characters, Sayers was writing Thrones, Dominations during the period of the death of George V & the Abdication crisis of 1936. Suddenly the theme of marriage was just a little too delicate. Sayers was also becoming interested in other work, including her plays on religious themes & so the novel was put aside & never resumed.

Conundrums for the Long Week-end is a book for Wimsey fans who have read all the books as the plots are fully discussed & the murderers are named. You have been warned! I enjoyed it because of the way that the authors tied together the wider social history of the period with Sayers’s life & the progress of her creation of two of the most intriguing characters in detective fiction.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone who visits I Prefer Reading. Thank you for dropping by & leaving comments. I’ll be thinking about my Books of the Year over the next few days, posting my lists & enjoying reading everyone else’s. I’ll also have another list of the books I didn’t quite get to in 2012. I’ll probably also make my usual New Year’s Resolution to stop buying books for a while & read the hundreds I already have.

I hope you all have a lovely, peaceful day. After lunch with my family, Lucky, Phoebe & I will be settling down to watch Scrooge with Alistair Sim or maybe A Christmas Carol with Michael Hordern or Patrick Stewart or George C Scott… It’s not an easy decision to make. I failed to get a photo of the girls lolling around the Christmas tree so here’s my favourite pictures of them both (separately, of course) as they wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Linda Gillard’s The Glass Guardian now available in paperback

One of my Favourite Books of 2012, Linda Gillard’s The Glass Guardian, is now available in paperback from Amazon. I loved Linda’s book & I’m very excited to be quoted on the back cover of the paperback.

The Glass Guardian is available for £7.99 from Amazon UK & $10.99 from Amazon US so everyone who was tempted by the many positive reviews but didn’t have an e-reader can now buy themselves the perfect New Year’s present.

Here’s my review,

The Glass Guardian is a very difficult book to review. It’s almost impossible to review it without spoilers. The author herself admits this so I’m not just trying to avoid writing a review! I could just say “I loved it, trust me, it’s unputdownable.” but that would make for a very short post. I think I summarised the book pretty well in my teaser on Monday, the story is about love, loss, grief, music, WWI, Skye, family secrets, loneliness & a ghost who will break your heart.

Ruth has suffered more grief in a very short time than anyone should have to bear. She’s lost her lover, her father & her aunt. Her Aunt Janet’s death has hit her hard. Janet virtually brought Ruth up after her mother’s death & the time she spent at Janet’s house, Tigh na Linne, on Skye, represents Ruth’s happiest memories. Ruth inherits the house & travels to Skye to decide what to do with her life. Her career as a television gardener has come to an end. Maybe Skye represents a new beginning?

Ruth begins working on the garden & looking through Janet’s archive. She was a well-known composer & a Canadian musicologist, Athelstan Blake, wants to write her biography. Ruth’s discoveries cause some concern. The manuscript of Janet’s most famous work, In Memoriam, based on a poem by Andrew Marvell, is in three different hands. In Memoriam is very different from Janet’s work before & after. Could she have appropriated someone else’s work?

Ruth also finds a childhood friend still living on Skye. Tom & his mother had spent summer holidays in a rented house near Tigh na Linne & now, after his mother’s death, Tom has returned, working as a general gardener & handyman. Ruth feels an immediate attraction to Tom & as he begins to help her get the house ready for a possible sale, Ruth begins to realise that a childhood friendship may not necessarily be the best basis for a relationship with a man she doesn’t really know.

Ruth gradually realises that she’s not alone at Tigh na Linne. The house is haunted & the ghost is not entirely a stranger to her. As winter envelops the house & Ruth’s loneliness & confusion increase, it becomes apparent that her future is intimately entwined with her family’s past & her passion for a man who died one hundred years ago.

Atmosphere is so very important in any supernatural story. Linda Gillard has created a completely believable world in The Glass Guardian that spans the real & the unreal, the past & the present. The best ghost stories take place in winter, illuminated by cosy fires & flickering candlelight. Skye is the perfect setting, the bare wintry landscape mirroring Ruth’s despair & grief when she first arrives at Tigh na Linne. Ruth is a vulnerable & very believable character. She has few warm memories & all of them are bound up with Skye & her Aunt Janet. Her determination to discover all she can about Janet’s life & the earlier family history is a fascinating part of the story.

I can’t say too much about the romantic hero of the book as it would spoil the story. I’ll just say that if you’ve loved the heroes of Linda’s earlier books, you won’t be disappointed. The love story is tender & romantic but tinged with the grief & regrets of an earlier age. If you don’t know Linda’s books, what are you waiting for?! Click on the link to my teaser post above, & you’ll find links to my reviews of Linda’s books & to her website.

As usual with Linda’s novels, I read The Glass Guardian in almost one sitting, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I was completely caught up in Ruth’s journey. If you enjoy a love story with atmosphere, intelligent, multi-faceted characters & a touch of the supernatural, I think you’ll enjoy The Glass Guardian.

Sunday Poetry – Christmas

Past Three A Clock (picture from here) is another of my favourite Christmas carols. Although it sounds ancient, only the refrain & the tune is old. It was a waits song from the seventeenth century when men would call the hours in the streets. The carol is a 20th century composition by George Ratcliffe Wood. In the recordings I’ve heard, it’s always sung by a male choir & the refrain is very addictive. It gets into my head & I find I’m humming it, walking, chopping or typing in time with it. I love the English homeliness of the words. Bringing cheese, butter & honey for Mary & the hinds searching for Jesus over the dewy lawn. If you don’t know it, there’s a performance here by Kings College Choir.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Born is a Baby,
Gentle as may be,
Son of the eternal
Father supernal.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Seraph quire singeth,
Angel bell ringeth;
Hark how they rime it,
Time it and chime it. Refrain.

Mid earth rejoices
Hearing such voices
e’ertofore so well
Carolling Nowell. Refrain.

Hinds o’er the pearly,
Dewy lawn early
Seek the high Stranger
Laid in the manger. Refrain.

Cheese from the dairy
Bring they for Mary
And, not for money,
Butter and honey. Refrain.

Light out of star-land
Leadeth from far land
Princes, to meet him,
Worship and greet him. Refrain.

Myrrh from full coffer,
Incense they offer;
Nor is the golden
Nugget withholden. Refrain

Thus they: I pray you,
Up, sirs, nor stay you
Till ye confess him
Likewise and bless him. Refrain.

A Question of Identity – Susan Hill

Is it sacrilegious to admit that I don’t read Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler novels for the murder plots anymore? Maybe it’s because Hill has a long & distinguished career as a novelist rather than a genre novelist that I find the atmosphere of the cathedral city of Lafferton & especially the family dynamics of Simon & his family so much more absorbing than the mystery & the investigation.

In the latest novel, A Question of Identity, I may have lost interest in the murder plot because I felt I knew who the murderer was from very early on & for once, I was right. One of the characters just never rang true from the moment they were introduced & I just knew that I’d found the murderer. I’d read Audrey’s post at Books as Food & I can see that Audrey feels as I do. The family relationships have become more compelling. I don’t see this as a reason to stop reading the series. After all, Simon is a policeman. If he abandoned his job & concentrated on his art, the books wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. But then, I’m afraid I find Simon the least interesting member of the Serrailler family. I loved the early books when his mother was alive & I find the female characters so much more interesting than Simon & his tentative, tortured relationships.

I suppose I should mention the detective plot at some point though. Elderly women living in sheltered accommodation are being murdered. The murderer has no trouble entering the houses, he doesn’t sexually assault his victims or steal anything. He arranges the women in a chair facing a mirror & strangles them. Eventually a link is made to a similar series of murders that took place some years earlier. The novel opens with the court case that led to the acquittal of the suspect in these murders. Alan Keyes disappeared after the trial & was never heard of again. Police were sure he was guilty but his defence lawyers had been able to throw doubt on an eyewitness’s testimony. Once the connection is made to this earlier case, Serrailler & his team are chasing a phantom. Keyes has been given a new identity & they have few clues to go on & get no help from the authorities. They set up an elaborate sting that helps them to find the killer.

While all this is going on, life in the Serrailler family is as complicated as ever. Simon is in love with Rachel, who loves him in return but isn’t free. Her husband is dying &, although he has given their relationship his blessing, she feels the guilt & strain of the situation. Simon’s sister, Cat, is struggling to cope as a single parent after the death of her husband. Her teenage son, Sam, is uncommunicative & silent. Her daughter, Hannah, is excited about the possibility of acting in a film. Molly, a medical student who lives with the family & helps with the children, is struggling to cope with the events of the last book, The Betrayal of Trust, when her life was at risk. Cat is also concerned about the future of her work as a doctor at a local hospice. The financial future of the hospice is in doubt & Cat feels undermined by the Board as she tries to ensure that its valuable work can continue.

Simon & Cat’s father, Richard, has always been a taciturn, difficult man. His second wife, Judith, has made a difference to all their lives &, after some initial resentment, Simon has grown to love her. Richard & Judith’s relationship appears very rocky & Judith’s refusal to confide in Cat is another source of concern.

All this family drama is fascinating & it’s what kept me reading the novel. I’ll look forward to Susan Hill’s next Simon Serrailler novel for the continuation of the Serrailler family saga above all.

The Pinecone – Jenny Uglow

Jenny Uglow is one of my favourite writers of non-fiction. She has a quiet, calm style that conjures up the world of her subjects. Her new book, The Pinecone, is the story of Sarah Losh, a woman of independent fortune who was an architect in an age when a woman was expected to be dedicated to hearth & home.

The Losh family made their fortune in industry. Sarah’s father, John, owned a factory making alkali to use in glass making. He & his partners discovered how to make alkali at a competitive price compared to European sources. This was the foundation of the wealth that allowed Sarah to follow her own course in an age when the traditional path of a young woman in the early 19th century involved marriage & family.

Sarah’s family lived in Wreay, near Carlisle in Cumbria. They were a politically radical family, acquainted with Wordsworth & Coleridge, religious dissenters with a strong social conscience. Sarah & her sister, Katharine, were very close. Neither married, although they spent their youth attending balls & receptions. Their brother, Joseph, was mentally disabled & so their father left his estate to his daughters equally. Sarah & Katherine were unusual because they were completely contented in each others company. Sarah loved reading & study & was an antiquarian with an intense interest in the past. The sisters travelled in Europe & Sarah was fascinated by the buildings of Italy & France, storing up ideas for her future work.

They both took an interest in their estate workers & the local village. They played the role of Lady Bountiful but there was a real concern & genuine kindness in all they did. Theirs was a benevolent rule. When the local churchyard was full they gave an acre of their land as a cemetery for their own village, regardless of religious denomination. Sarah designed the chapel that was built there, adapting the plan of St Piran’s oratory, a Cornish chapel that had recently been uncovered by archaeologists.This awareness & passion for the past informed all Sarah’s building projects. She was also passionate about using local craftsmen & materials.

Sarah’s next project was much more sombre. Katharine died in 1835 & Sarah was overcome with grief. She designed a strange boxlike mausoleum, a place of quiet reflection. It’s described as both a refuge & a cell & was described at the time as having Druidic influences. The statue on the cover of the book sits in the mausoleum. It shows Katharine looking down at a pinecone on her lap. The pinecone is one of the central motifs of Sarah’s work. I had no idea of the complex symbolism of this object. It’s an ancient symbol of regeneration & fertility. It was also an expression of the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical pattern that describes the way the bracts of the pinecone are laid out. It’s found everywhere in nature from the pattern on a snail’s shell to the structure of DNA. Sarah was a mathematician & was fascinated by patterns & symbols.

The building for which Sarah is now remembered is the extraordinary church she built at Wreay. The church is the embodiment of all her reading on early church architecture & religious history. It was also informed by the controversies in the Church of her own day. The Oxford Movement was endeavouring to bring the Church of England closer to its historical roots & antiquarians were rediscovering the beauties of Norman & Romanesque architecture. Sarah’s design didn’t copy any particular style, it was her own.

Like a geologist demonstrating the strata of belief, she decorated the church with symbols that looked back to the earlier religions, myths and cults that lay buried beneath Christian imagery and ritual, as the wheat of Demeter and the grapes of Dionysus lay behind the bread and wine of the sacrament.

She used the lotus, an early symbol of creation used by the Egyptians. There were cockerels, snakes & the tortoise, all symbols of Hindu stories & classical myth. And there were pinecones, a symbol that was used in ancient Assyria, Babylon, Egypt & Greece. Early visitors to the church were probably most surprised by the lack of Christian imagery. The building itself was simple but the interior decoration was very much Sarah’s vision & completely individual.

The design & building of Sarah’s church is the heart of the book but there is so much else. The coming of the railways, the stories of Sarah’s wider family & their adventures in India & during the Afghan Wars. Above all, it’s the story of a remarkable woman who made the most of her opportunities to live a truly individual life. Sarah Losh lived her life in her own way & has left behind her church, a unique expression of her character. When she died in 1853, she was mourned by many. Trees were planted in her honour by the local weavers she’d helped in hard times & by the villagers who had benefited from her care.

Sunday Poetry – Christmas

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel is one of my favourite carols. I listen to Christmas carols for weeks before Christmas, I’ve always loved them, especially the older, medieval ones. This one always makes me think of angels (picture from here). The words are joyous but the tune is melancholy. I don’t know all the words, but I just hum along & join in loudly on Rejoice! Rejoice! Whether it’s in English or Latin, this is one of the tunes that stays in the mind long after the CD is back in its case.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save;
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!