There are Christians who refuse to celebrate the season because of its pagan origins, grounded in Solstice revels. These origins were made abundantly clear when John Langstaff first staged the Christmas Revels in New York City's Town Hall in 1957. The Revels, then, were a celebration of the rebirth of the New Year, but Langstaff added a twist. He would also enfold Christ -- the "Lord of the Dance" -- into his pageant, arguing that His death and rebirth fit perfectly into ancient pagan ritual. This 1978 version of The Christmas Revels offers but one version of the ever-evolving procession, featuring Langstaff as lead baritone on favorites like "The Boar's Head Carol" and "Lord of the Dance." A large cast, performing choral vocals, spoken parts, and instrumentals, brings an energetic dignity to a mixture of traditional songs, dances, ritual, and poetry. While the spoken portions of the Revels probably work better in a live theater experience, its important to remember that the program is meant as a community celebration. While some people will find this music a bit eccentric, the sort of thing one might hear on public radio on Christmas Eve; The Christmas Revels breaks away from yet another version of "Silent Night" and offers a refreshing way to celebrate the season. Pagans of all stripes will also be glad to have a holiday album to call their own.
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