A few weeks before Christmas, we submitted to the RTS documentalists about fifteen songs selected from our archives. The goal: to establish a top 5 of the best Christmas carols. Traditional melodies, more contemporary tunes or variety: there was something for everyone.
The counting of the votes held some surprises. Certain songs, which seemed a priori to have good chances, do not appear in the classification, while “UFOs” have had the favor of the voters.
5th position: “Angels in our campaigns”
Can a cacophony be charming? In any case, it won over part of our panel. In 1961, in the lower town of Fribourg, a children’s choir sings “Angels in our countryside”. Then toddlers follow one another in front of the tree for a recitation. The sequence ends with a chaotic and joyful distribution of gifts.
4th position: “Like the Magi”
In 1971, Sheila gave a concert in the canton of Geneva, at the Thônex village hall. The TSR transmits the event. The singer is a confirmed star: her first 45 laps was released nine years earlier, when she was only 16 years old. In this year 1971, the song “Les Rois Mages” hit the charts in France, but also in Mexico, Argentina and Spain. Can we consider it as a Christmas carol? It’s to do. However, she won enough votes to arrive in 4th place in our ranking.
3rd position: “The Song of the Magi”
Definitely, the Magi are popular! Not intimidated for a penny, and even a little mischievous, a little boy sings and mimes in front of the camera the journey of Gaspard, Melchior and Balthazar to Bethlehem. The scene takes place in Geneva, in 1960.
2nd Position: “Santa’s Daughter”
“I found her in the early morning, completely naked in my big shoes”. Irreverent as hell, this song by Jacques Dutronc nevertheless gathered enough votes to appear in 2nd place in this top 5. The quirky irony of the king of yéyé seems to have got the better of the Christmas spirit.
1st position: “My poor tree”
Without wanting to offend Mannick and Jo Akepsimas, performers and authors of this song, finding “My poor tree” in first place in this top 5 is a real surprise. Because it questions the fact of cutting fir trees to decorate our living rooms at Christmas, the song certainly relays ecological concerns that are still current. But the interpretation, the decor and the costumes (special mention to the embroidered tunic by Jo Akepsimas) are nonetheless very dated. It is perhaps precisely this little old-fashioned touch that has won over a majority of librarians.
We know: the rankings are relative and it even happens that they miss out on quality productions. Here are some pearls that we have fished out of the songs that did not make the top 5.
“Let’s Sing Christmas”
In 1971, the TSR traveled to the Vaud region of Broye for its holiday schedule. The young singers of the Nid de Moudon choir, a children’s home, lend themselves naturally to the staging imagined by the director Constantin Fernandez. A donkey, a path, a camp: this is the setting for the song “Chantons Noël”.
“Christmas to dance”
In 1980, the TSR moved to Payerne Abbey to record the first edition of “L’Etoile d’Or”, a Christmas carol competition for choirs from French-speaking Switzerland. The small choir of Sainte-Thérèse de Friborg offers a “Christmas to dance”, a song with gypsy accents, very finely interpreted. The jury is not mistaken: “Noël à danser” will win the final of the competition.
“It’s freezing cold”
In 1986, the Maîtrise de Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens in Bulle offered the TSR a Christmas programme, including this version of the popular song “Il gèle à pierre splittre”. Emotion guaranteed.
“Tonight is Christmas”
You can be a good announcer and a poor singer. Or combine talents. In 1967, four announcers from the TSR, among whom we recognize Madeleine (seated) and Claude Evelyne (standing on the far left) tried the exercise, with some success.
The RTS archives team wishes you all happy holidays!
We want to say thanks to the author of this article for this remarkable content
The top 5 Christmas carols
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