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Unusual Christmas arrangements

Hi All,
I am looking for some "unusual" arrangements of Christmas songs/carols.  These can be traditional carols or pop Christmas tunes - would just like some different approaches... can be novelty or just incredibly beautiful... just not same old- same old.  Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
Replies (35): Threaded | Chronological
on June 24, 2013 11:03am
May I suggest my "Holiday Feast for a Hungry Choir (Variations in Search of a Holiday Treat)" a medley of familiar carols with text variations. The idea behind the work is that the choir has been working so hard that they haven't had a chance to eat, so they keep corrupting the words to be about food. It starts with "Now Bring us some Figgy Pudding", then works into "Carol of the Smells," "Bring a Torte, Annette, Isabella," "A Chocolate Rose Consuming," "Ding Dongs and a Cherry Pie," "Angelfood Cake, Lemon Pie," "Deck the Hall with Rolls of Jelly," and "O Come, Have a Plateful." I'll be happy to send a perusal.
on June 25, 2013 3:27am
Dear Phyllis,
I have an arrangement of "We Thee Kings" which is quite effective.
You might also enjoy my setting of "In The Bleak Midwinter" - it's original rather than an arrangement, but there's a very clear tune. - recording at (the recording is a rearrangement for SSAB).
Both can be ordered by email - . The cost for each is $25 (for a PDF, and you can print as many copies as you like) or $40 if you order both.
Chris Hutchings
on June 25, 2013 5:23am
We Three Kings arr. Darmon Meader - very interesting a capella arrangement - jazzed up
on June 25, 2013 7:16am
I have a few arrangements that might be of interest to you. Here are links to excerpts from a few. I have a few others that have not yet been posted. Contact me directly for those as well. I also have an arrangement of O Holy Night that features 25 carols as the background accompaniment for the solo.
on June 25, 2013 7:21am
I don't know if you're open to anything that's not a familiar carol, and don't know if you're OK with something openly sacred, but an unusual and beautiful piece is Stephen Main's The Darkest Midnight in December, publiched by Walton.  If you can get access to a celeste, using it for the accompaniment adds an original a beautiful touch.  You can listen to it and view the score here:
on June 25, 2013 7:40am
Do you mean novel arrangements of familiar carols, or would new carols be acceptable?
What accompaniment(s) do you have in mind?
Brian Holmes
on June 29, 2013 7:33am
I would be interested in looking at either - but at the moment, novel arrangements of familiar carols and pop Christmas tunes would be most helpful.  Accompaniment would be most likely piano or organ, rhythm section if needed, and/or obbligato instruments.
Thank you for any suggestions.
on July 15, 2013 11:20pm
Here is a description of some of my Christmas music.  These are all original settings.
I saw a fair maiden, unaccompanied, medieval text.  Published by Thorpe.
      Winner, Amadeus Choir Contest
The Brown Birds, unaccompanied, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.  Published by Thorpe.
      Winner, Amadeus Chori Cojntest
Carol of the Field Mice, unaccompanied, poem from Wind in the Willows.  Published by Throrpe.
The Shepherd and the King, SATB + harp or piano, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.  Puiblished by Thorpe.
       Winner, Welcome Christmas! Contest of ACF and VocalEssence.  Recorded by VocalEssence.
Kings Came Riding, SATB plus oboe, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.  Published by Thorpe.
Tyrley, Tyrlow, SATB plus keyboard, medieval text.  Published by thorpe.
Chesterton's Carol, SATB plus keyboard, poem of Chesterton.  Published by Thorpe.
A Christmas Lullaby, SA plus keyboard, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.  Published by Thorpe.
You can see score pages and hear snippets of these here.
Here are some pieces that are unpublished.
King Herod's Carol, unaccompanied, text by me.
The Riding of the Kings, SATB + horn and piano, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.
The Mummers, SATB plus piano, poem of Eleanor Farjeon
The Shortest Day, unaccompanied, poem of Susan Cooper.  This is 
    a solstice piece.  Recording and Score here.  Winner, Amadeus Choir Contest.
A Carol for Christmas Eve, Unaccompanied, poem of Eleanor Farjeon.
Four Medieval Carols, unaccompanied, which includes Good Cheer, The 
      Moor Maiden, Nay Ivy Nay, and Jolly Jankin.  The latter two won
      the Ithaca College Choral Composition Contest.
Also Gordon Thornett just wrote Bright was the Star, a setting (SATB plus piano) 
of a poem I wrote.
Please let me know if you care to see any scores or hear any recordings.
Brian Holmes
on June 25, 2013 7:47am
Hi, Phyllis -- not sure from what you wrote if you meant only arrangements of existing works, or if brand new settings of traditional texts or even brand new works are OK. If the latter, may I suggest:
Harp Carol, for SATB, harp or keyboard, and optional percussion -- published by Alliance -- here's a link to the piece in the Alliance catalog.
Mary's First Lullaby, for SATB and cello or piano -- published by Yelton Rhodes -- here's a link to the piece in the YRM catalog.
This Holy Christmas Night, a past winner in the vocalEssence/American Composers Forum Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest, for SATB and organ or piano -- published by Walton -- here's a link to the piece in the Walton catalog.
More information about all three also available here on my web site.
All best!
Jonathan Santore
on June 25, 2013 8:15am
Hi, Phyllis!
You could take a look at my arrangement of "O Come Emmanuel." It includes the Latin phrase "Dum Spiro Spero (while I breathe, I hope). It's originally for SSAA but it could be rearranged to include men if need be. I has been performed successfully as a quartet but would suit an a capella choir nicely. Yours would be the 'premier' of a choral performance.
Here's the link to the Composer's Showcase where you can view the score and hear a MIDI representation:
I hope you find what you're looking for :-)
on June 25, 2013 8:20am
Hello, Phyllis,
If you are considering novelties, I would offer you two from my catalog. You can peruse the scores and listen to demo MP3s here:
All are avaiilable in inexpensive .pdf format with a modest per-copy fee.
Please contact me off-list if any of these are of interest.
The Chocolate Carol 3′
SATB divisi
piano, opt. solo flute
Lyrics: David/Randi Avshalomov
A humorous tonal Holiday novelty on the pleasures of Chocolate! Slow intro, bouncy catchy chorus, mock-operatic ending. Written for Pat Loeb’s Music Companie. Hilarious video of this on YouTube by my son Jesse, sung by Torrance Civic Chorale/Burks
SATB chorus with piano; optional bass and drums
Duration 4'45"
Lyrics by the composer
Lively, adorable novelty about adopting a pet for Christmas. Heartfelt story intro, up-tempo light swing choruses with hook and bridge, Dixie scat breakdown, Rockettes high-kick turnaround reprise, light throwaway ending. An old-fashioned, corny but sincere family song for tough economic times, with a back message about responsible ownership. Fun to sing, moderate difficulty, and a sure-fire audience pleaser. 
I also have "Chanukah Tonight" if you are including other winter holidays:
Chanukah Tonight!
SATB (a few optional divisi) 2:45
with piano (also for string orchestra—or mandolins or balalaikas)
English lyrics by the composer
This exuberant song gives a quick glimpse of the legend, tradition, and modern observance of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, in a lively syncopated setting that builds from the quiet placing of one more candle in the chanukiah each night, to the bright celebration on the eighth night, with songs, food, and play. It is intended for both Jewish and non-Jewish choruses and audiences and is suitable for an inclusive (non-sectarian) Winter Holiday concert. (The tune and words are not traditional but newly made, in familiar style.) Tonal, in d minor, choice of big or gentle ending. Not difficult to learn.
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor
Santa Monica, CA
Dual Finalist, American Prize 2013, Choral and Orchestral Composition (final results in July 2013)
Special Citation Winner, American Prize 2012/Orchestral Composition
ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Choral Repertoire of Outstanding Quality
“Polifonija” sacred choral music competition 2013, Siauliai state chamber choir, Lithuania, second place
Project : Encore, Schola Cantorum/Hudson, recommended choral work of exceptional merit 2012
on June 25, 2013 9:45am
Phyllis, The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers (tmocc dot com) have been doing my specialty arrangements for over 30 years.  They've also been done by Chanticleer, SF Symphony Chorus, Symphony Silicon Valley Chorus, etc.  
You can hear most of them on my recording engineer's Web site:
The top 28 tracks are from MOCC's 25th Anniversary CD.  Tracks 24, "Sounds of Christmas," and 26, "Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem Go" (calypso) are my originals.  The next 16 tracks are more arrangements, and the two bottom collections (6 and 8 charts) are even more.  
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, way in advance!
Ken Malucelli (dot com)
on June 25, 2013 10:48am
Hello Phyllis,
If you're into a 'Swingle' type arrangement, I can suggest one that I did a while back on a lively old French Carol, Il est né, le divin enfant. It works well with a small or large ensemble. A cappella with optional contra bass line.
You will find a "calypso" carol there also – Sister Mary – which is very lively and may be accompanied with hand held percussion instruments.
on June 25, 2013 12:51pm
If you're looking for traditional words with new music, I would strongly recommend Gordon Thornett's "Noel" (published by Oxford University Press, available on JW Pepper website, probably others as well ... ) -- a setting of the lyrics from "The First Noetl" to totally new music for SATB + piano.  My group, Cantaré Vocal Ensemble in Seattle, WA, has performed this twice in concert, and incldued it on our first CD.  It's great fun for singers and our audience loves it.  
Also, I've done an setting of "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" to new music -- SATB a cappella -- available for a VERY nominal charge to any group that wants to use it.  This is the concert recording from last December (2012): - Cantaré Vocal Ensemble.
Good luck with your search!  Cantaré has made a practice of including "unusual" settings of traditional holiday carols and songs -- our audience kind of expects it now.  And our singers never get bored with the "same old" carols.
Lana Mountford
Bellingham, WA
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 26, 2013 3:48am
Thank you. Lana  -  nice to get an unsolicited endorsement of my 'Noel!' setting in one of these threads!
In fact I've done several new settings of familiar Christmas texts, including two Christina Rossetti carols ("In the bleak midwinter' and 'Love came down at Christmas', publ. Norsk Musikforlag), a syncopated new version of 'While shepherds watched' (also pub. by Norsk under the title 'And glory shone') and some unpublished ones (see
But a couple you might like to have a look at are 'See amid the Winter's Snow' (new setting), which is on youtube, performed by the Nidaros Cathedral Boys' Choir of Trondheim, Norway:
and an arrangement I made of the English Greensleeves carol, 'What Child is this?', performed by the same group (about 40 seconds into the clip):
I've also done a simple arrangement of 'Rise up, shepherd', which incorporates an oboe (or flute) obbligato part. See
I hope there might be something of use to you there, or to other colleagues.  Best wishes in your search, Phyllis!
on June 25, 2013 3:13pm
Silent Holy Hanukah Bush.  Available in SATB and TTBB.

Christmas; Hanukkah; Holiday; Pythonesque; humor; GALA; cabaret; Jewish. Octavo. Composed 2006. 8 pages. Duration 2:15. Published by De Stijl Music (D1.SM-06-0005A).

So small and demure. Such gentile allure. Don't put it in the window. Someone from Temple might see! Holiday humor suitable for all ages.

on June 26, 2013 4:59am
Dear Phyllis:
You can't eat all that Christmas food without having something with which to wash it down.  May I suggest my Christmas drinking song, "All Year Long."  It is an original - not an arrangement.  It is a strophic, three-verse, SATB a cappella ditty which may be seen and heard in a truncated version at  I'll be happy to email you a complete score upon request. 
Bon appetit,
Steve Murray
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2013 3:23am
Magic Snow.  Available in SATB and TTBB.

Christmas; Holiday; Pythonesque; adult; humor; GALA; cabaret. Octavo. Composed 2006. 12 pages. Duration 2:30. Published by De Stijl Music (D1.SM-06-0001A).

Ever wonder how Santa stays awake all night long to deliver all those toys? *snif* Adult humor.

on June 28, 2013 11:06am
OK well this is unusual.  There's five versions of this.  There's a "clean," kid-safe, 2-part easy version.  Then there's four-part SATB or TTBB arrangements of the "clean version and the infamous "belt version."  Additionally, the versions can be stacked or combined as you can see in the video below.  2-part is really good for carolling.  "Belt version" is really good for groups that do cabaret and pythonesque material.  
This Christmas Carol is short, simple, sweet, and memorable, about an elf who learns the spirit of giving 
on June 28, 2013 4:26pm
Hi Phyllis. There is something on my site arrangements of some rather popular Christmas songs (now all of them with audio samples). In the list they are mixed with pop/jazz songs, anyway you'll recognize them from the titles. Best Regards.
on June 28, 2013 7:18pm
If you are looking for something incredibly beautiful consider, "There is faint music" by Dan Forrest, published by Hal Leonard.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 29, 2013 7:39am
Thank you all for your many suggestions.  I am in the process of checking them out.  I am most appreciative.
on June 30, 2013 6:55am
Please check out Jackson Berkey's set of Anniversary Carols. I'm sure his company will send either perusal copies, or a recording. Send him an email at jackson(a) and ask. If you don't know who Jackson is, I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised with his background. Look him up on wiki. Throughout the years when I was "in the field", I performed many of his works with the groups I directed. Both sacred and secular. Anthems as well as extended works. Conducting myself, or turning the baton over to his lovely wife Almeda with him at the piano. His music always brought something amazing to the experience. I lovingly urge you to become familiar with his catalog.
Phil Michéal
on July 15, 2013 7:38am
A Christmas Garland by Bruce Saylor is a lovely compilation for Christmas - interesting because it can either be performed a cappella or with full orchestra!  Here is a link to the page:
on July 16, 2013 3:35am
on July 28, 2013 11:54am
Dear Phyllis,
Sorry to be so late to this party.  I have two Christmas carols to suggest
"The Cherry Tree Carol", a beautiful English carol for SATB and piano that is looking for a Premiere
and a charming original Carol with lyrics by Joan Ross Sorkin titled "Upside Down Wish List" for SATB with flute obligatto.
Unfortunately, neither of these are recorded, although "Cherry Tree Carol" has a Midi recording.
I'm happy to send perusal scores to either or both.
Thanks for viewing and considering!
on July 29, 2013 8:19am
Hi Phyllis,
Paraclete Press will be publishing this September my arrangements of: Ten Contrapuntal Choral Christmas Carols: 4 for mixed choir, 3 for women's chorus, 3 for men's chorus.
Mixed choir: A Festive Fantasia: Angels we have heard/Cantamus Domino; Good People all, this Christmastime; Angels from the Realms of Glory; O Come all ye Faithful
Women's chorus: All my Heart this Night; Lo How a Rose e'er Blooming; Silent Nght
Men's Chorus: We Three Kings; Once in a Royal David's City; Angles from the Realms of Glory
Should you like to see any "previews" I have pdfs of all of these pre-publication. I am happy to send any to you, and/or describe the arrangement of any for you.
Jim Marvin
on July 29, 2013 10:05am
Hi Phyllis,
You'll definitely want to take a look at Richard Toensing's set of 24 New Orthodox Carols for the Nativity of Christ, all of which are beautiful, approachable, and varied, both in spirit and in musical idiom. Some are in the Greco-Byzantine style, some are in a pentatonic folk-like idiom, and still others are in standard Western tonality, yet all of them have a fresh twist to melody, harmony, or rhythm. They are free to use, and PDFs of each carol can be downloaded at Richard Toensing's website,
Here are three carols to listen to, which were recorded by Cappella Romana:
Once Sorrow had Silenced Zion's Harps,
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about these glorious carols.
Janet Braccio
Bella Voce Communications
on July 30, 2013 3:07am
May I suggest you look at
Many of Philip Stopfords arrangements are simply stunning, his 'In the Bleak Midwinter' especially so.
This is one of the many that Hal Leonard have taken up:
on July 30, 2013 4:38am
Phyllis -- There is lots to choose from as you can see.  Here are more arrangements from my pen, each with something unusual or not "same old," I trust!
Behold That Star -- barit. solo, SATB & organ
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus -- SATB & French horn
Christmas Processional -- flute/oboe, SAB & organ
Good People All, This Christmastime -- treble solo, SAB & piano
Rejoice And Be Merry in Songs -- flute/oboe, SAB & organ
Rise Up Shepherd and Follow -- barit. solo, SATB & organ
Sweet Little Jesus Boy -- mezzo & SATB a cappella 
Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing (Shaker Song) -- SATB a cappella
The following are not arrangements, but original melodies.
Christopher J. Hoh
on July 30, 2013 6:23am
Check out Jeff Funk's arrangement of "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy."
on July 31, 2013 3:53am
I just threw this arrangement onto the board a couple of weeks ago but think it fits in this comment section as well: Free scores, just get in touch and I'll send a copy :)
on August 2, 2013 10:36am
Check out my arrangement of "There is no Rose" for chorus, tanpura, and percussion (recording and score) on my web site:
Reg Unterseher
on August 3, 2013 5:40am
Consider my arrangement of I WONDER AS I WANDER.  (Commissioned by Winnipeg's Camerata Nova, who premiered it this past December.) For a free perusal pdf, or a copy license pdf for choir copies, contact Monarda Music at info(a)
on August 4, 2013 8:59pm
The Silent Word, Jackson Berkey (strains of What Child is This with changing meters)
Alleluia Rejoice, arr. J. Edmund Hughes  (O come o come emanuel x Hodie Christus natus est)
Veni, veni Emmanuel or Corde natus ex parentis or Adeste Fideles (or all 3) in original chant form,
In Dolci Jubio, Robert Lucas Pearsall (Good Christian Men)
Peace, Peace-- Rick Powell (partner song with Silent night)
Night of Silence, Silent night (ditto)
Midnight Clear, Matthew Nielsen, Edmund Sears
Go, Tell It on the Mountain, Josh Shank
Lo, How a Rose/The Rose, arr. Craig hella johnson
Glory Glory to the Newborn King, Moses Hogan
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth a la David Bowie and Bing Crosby
The Huron Carol (Twas in the Moon of Wintertime) arr. Robert B. Anderson
Janine Dexter, R&S Community Choirs, CA ACDA   
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