Monthly Archives: November 2010

The First Noel

Happy Holidays everyone!

Jolie and I have been working on recording a couple of Christmas carols to get us in the Christmas season.   This first one, an arrangement of The First Noel, is something I actually started in September.  I first began the initial sketches after receiving a request from a lady from Washington who needed some original music for their Christmas Nativity event.  She’d really enjoyed Give Said The Little Stream and wanted to see if I had anything else.  I thought her inquiry would be a fun project and so I started playing with a few ideas.

After experimenting with a few different carols, I knew I had a potential idea in The First Noel.  I recorded a few measures, and upon playback, immediately felt all Christmasy.  That was a good sign.  The first two verses came in the span of 30 minutes because  I knew what I  wanted to convey: images of fallen snow, a mother peacefully singing to her child, etc.   But when recording the initial demo, I abruptly stopped at the end of the 2nd verse/chorus.  I had no idea which direction to take the music.  So, I did the typical musician thing and put it on hold for a few weeks (e.g. forgot about it).

In late October, I revisited the arrangement by looking at some of the other verses contained in the carol.  The last verse  in particular stuck out to me.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

It was joyous, mysterious, celebratory.

I realized that, growing up, I’d sung the carol superficially. I’d always sung it as a narration, as I were telling a story to a nearby child.  The carol had always been about that story, and never about the act and joy of praise. Reading that last verse, I realized that I’d missed the true message of the carol when singing it.

I started writing the third verse with all those thoughts in mind.  I could hear the crescendo of the piano adding emphasis to the message, with the Fm9 bringing an aura of mysteriousness.  And finally, the refrain “Born is the King!” reminding us of the joy his birth brings to the world.   Both the third verse and the final refrain came quickly. And now, when I listen to the arrangement, that 3rd verse is my favorite part.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you all enjoy the video.


p.s. In terms of the mp3, Jolie and I thought it’d be helpful to put the music on iTunes/Amazon, etc.  This is all hard work (but fun!) and we know that there are those of you who are supportive of what we do.  Thanks for understanding!
iTunes Link
Amazon Link

p.p.s. Other arrangement notes: Some of you might notice that the meter of the arrangement is in 4/4 instead of 3/4. This was done to emphasize the chorus and really bring out the melody. Also, the third verse was changed a little bit from the last verse of the original carol in order to more facilitate a musical transition to the final refrain.

The First Noel Sheet Music

As promised, here is the sheet music for The First Noel.  Although I was originally planning on just uploading the piano/vocal version, I was able to put the finishing touches on the SATB arrangement last night.   I thought it best to upload the sheet music first as I know soloists or choirs like a little bit of lead time to find appropriate holiday music.  Jolie and I are working on a mp3 recording of the solo version which I hope to upload within the next week.

For any of you choir directors who are planning on having your choir sing the arrangement, I’d be most interested in your feedback.  Ideally I’d put the music through its paces with my congregation, but our choir is still getting its feet wet musically.

I also assisted Jolie’s help to record a solo version of Silent Night, so look for that in a follow up post in the future.


The First Noel (SATB version), arranged by Jared Ong

The First Noel (Solo Version) arranged by Jared Ong