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Christmas Music:

A sampling of favorite Christmas carols and songs
as recorded on Edison
cylinder records


Editor's Note: Christmas tree light collector George Nelson also collected and restored antique wax cylinder phonographs. On this page George posted mp3 recordings he had made of Christmas music cylinders in his posession. Unfortunately, when George's web site shut down, the music files were all lost immediately. Although this page remained available on at least one archive site, without the music files, it was just a sad reminder of what we had lost. In my efforts to restore George's site, I was faced with the decision of trying to replace George's recordings with similar recordings other folks had made, or deleting this page altogether.

Click to see more Christmas features, including stories, music, and craft resources.Then, totally by fluke, in June, 2010, I found that another reader had copied most of George's recordings onto his web page in 2007. That web page went down soon after, but not before one of HIS readers archived his files to another site. You had better believe I moved quickly to retrieve George's files for this page. I was able to recover all but three and make them available here.

Now here's a "shout out" to reader Clayton Cooper, who has recovered the last three files that were missing from George's original collection. They are:

  • 1912 version of O Holy Night
  • 1912 version of Christmas Bells
  • 1914 version of Birthday of a King

In addition, if you like these files and want to hear many similar recordings, check out the Antique Christmas Music blog.

Have a great Christmas season!

Paul Race

We now return you to George's original content, circa 2007.

Vintage Christmas Recordings:

A Sampling of some early Christmas Music

Another of this collector's hobbies is the collecting and restoration of old phonographs. Presented on this page for your enjoyment is a sampling of some vintage cylinder records featuring early Christmas music. These records were played on a 1908 Edison Home cylinder player, while being recorded by computer in MP3 format. The vintage cylinders were produced in the Edison laboratories acoustically, and were recorded without the use of any electricity. It amazes this collector that these recordings are still playable after all these years.



The Music
(Click on each title to play)
Bells of Christmas
Recorded in 1913
Minuit, Chretiens
(Oh, Holy Night!)*

Recorded in 1912, Albert Quesnel
Christ is Come
Recorded in 1908
Christmas Bells*
Recorded in 1912, Robert Gaylor
Christmas, Christmas!
Blessed Day!

Recorded in 1908
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!
Recorded in 1913
Hail, Hail, Day of Days!
Recorded in 1913
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
Recorded in 1912
Joy to the World
Recorded in 1906
Silent Night
(Sung in German)*

Recorded in 1908
Silent Night
(Sung in English)
Recorded in 1910
Silent Night
(Sung in English)
Different version, recorded in 1912
Recital: The Night Before Christmas
Recorded in 1914
Harry E. Humphrey
Adeste Fideles
(Oh, Come All Ye Faithful)
Recorded in 1914
The First No?l
(Recorded in 1914)
Carol Singers
Oh, Tannenbaum
Recorded in 1907
Nebe Quartett
Auld Lang Syne
Recorded in 1910
Birthday of a King*
Recorded in 1914, Thomas Chalmers

*George's original recording of a 1912 version of Albert Quesnel's O Holy Night has been restored. If you want to hear the 1914 version here.
*George's original recoding of a 1912 version of Christmas Bells has been restored. If you want to hear the 1919 version we had posted for a while, click here. Both recordings are credited are the Robert Gaylor version, but pops are in different places so I've kept them both online in case someone wants to try to restore the recording.
*George's original recoding of a 1914 version of Birthday of a King has been restored. We also have another recording of the same title here in cae you're interested in totally restoring the recording.

*Special Notes about Silent Night: These versions of the classic "Silent Night" are somewhat different from the wording that is used today.
The German version translates as follows:

Silent Night, Hallowed Night
All Asleep, nowhere light,
Save where watches the Holy Pair
Blessed Infant, so pure and fair.
Slumber in heav'nly repose,
Slumber in heav'nly repose.

Silent Night, hallowed night.
Shepherds tell thy delight.
Tidings borne by the angel band
Far and wide ring thro' the land
Jesus our Savior is born,
Jesus our savior is born!

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