The second song on this Christmas list is a different version of an old classic, albeit not too different. Bella Hardy from Edale, Derbyshire in the UK grew up in a musical family and would later earn a masters in music at Newcastle University. She would join the folk outfit The Pack and played with them until she released her solo debut album in 2007. Hardy, who has won several folk awards, mixes traditional folk with her own compositions and is good at keeping her own sound intact.
Her Christmas album Bright Morning Star is a collection of delightful interpretations of classic holiday tunes ranging from traditional ones like The Coventry Carol or The Holly and the Ivy and more modern tunes like Merry Christmas Everyone and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. My favorite and also the second pick on this list is her version of the traditional We Wish You A Merry Christmas; a song that is odd in its composition, comprised of a friendly first verse and a more hostile second verse. According to David Kyle Johnson’s book The Myth’s That Stole Christmas the song reflects an age and tradition where farmhands or workers would violently enter their masters’ homes and demand food or goods, the cause of the verse ‘We won’t go to until we get some’.
Hardy’s version is less hostile and the lyrics more focused on joys of the season than the wants or needs. It creates a warm and cozy feeling with focus on the light in the darkest time of the year. Hardy’s fiddle addition is a welcome one and she manages to sneak in a bit of Auld Lang Syne and that is also fun.
In closing it should be said that Hardy’s entire album deserves a place on this list, but We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a good representative of it.