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Writing historical fiction: sometime journal of a New York City novelist

A beautiful Christmas memory - Langstaff's Christmas Revels

We put on Christmas cds to prepare for some holiday guests and the music and words of the original Christmas Revels burst into the room, filling my heart with such memories! Perhaps twenty years ago when I was revising and trying to find a publisher for my first book, the Elizabethan NICHOLAS COOKE, I first saw John Langstaff and his Christmas Revels.

It was in the chapel of Columbia University, filled with dark undecorated Christmas trees as if we sat in a forest. Then out of the great dark came one reedy recorder...and then the music burst out. With trumpets playing, it seemed a hundred dancing singers poured down the aisles singing "Wassail, wassail!" and so it proceeded from the bearing in of the Boar's Head, Morris Dancers, children, moving words on Christmas, my best loved carols...the Christmas of my dreams in some old hall burst into life for me.

All this was originated and led by the magnetic, brilliant baritone John Langstaff. And for me, my Elizabethan world danced before me. I was shaken with joy.

Later when I had finished and published NICHOLAS COOKE, I met John Langstaff at another performance of his Revels. Wearing the long flowing robe of his role as Master of the Hall, he shook my hand warmly as I gave him a copy of the book and told him what the Revels meant to me. His eyes twinkled and his grasp was strong.

John Langstaff has now gone on to heaven and I hear his music and remember my astonished joy at what he had created. I hope that all of us who create art or dinner parties or wrap presents for loved ones remember that we never know how far the joy of what we give can travel.

The Original Christmas Revels cd is available on Amazon and everywhere else.
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