WINDSOR TERRACE — With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing families to stay home during this Christmas season, many folks are turning to sacred music as a means to help relieve stress and find meaning in classical hymns of faith and devotion.
A prime example of this is the unforeseen success of the London Oratory Schola Cantorum Choir’s album “Sacred Treasures of Christmas,” a 16-song collection created earlier this year when the pandemic struck. The first London lockdown allowed choir conductor Charles Cole to work on the album and ultimately complete it.
The CD released on Oct. 30 features a sequence of music for Christmas, Epiphany, and Candlemas. It entered the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart at number two. Highlights include a magnificent performance of Italian Roman Catholic Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s “Surge, Illuminare, Jerusalem,” Andrea Gabrieli’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” and a stunning rendition of Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’s “Hodie Christus Natus Est (Today Christ is Born),” which bridges the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
While the success of “Sacred Treasures of Christmas” is undoubtedly noteworthy during this most unusual holiday season, sacred Christmas hymns have always been a popular refuge for listeners seeking to celebrate the true spirit of the season. This year’s Billboard Holiday 100 chart includes a sprinkling of sacred hymns such as Nat King Cole’s recording of “Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)” and Carrie Underwood’s cover of the seasonal favorite “Silent Night.”
So, this year, possibly more than any other in recent memory, there appears to be a resurgence of sacred music. And whether you turn to a classical choir, Josh Groban’s heartfelt version of “What Child Is This,” or a perennial favorite like Perry Como singing “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Ave Maria,” there’s no doubt that these songs will bring you a measure of comfort and joy during a less than ideal Christmas season.