Book Review: An Advent Carols Countdown: Stories Behind the Most Beloved Music of Christmas by Michael D. Young

Release date: September 6, 2022

Get in the Christmas spirit with this unique collection of the most beloved Christmas carols, from the warmly nostalgic to the majestically solemn and uplifting. The book features one carol for each day from December first to Christmas Eve, and presents both the lyrics and the fascinating stories and interesting facts behind the creation of the songs. Each entry deepens our understanding of the music and enhances our appreciation of why these songs are culturally important and dearly treasured.

From popular, familiar carols to lesser known but cherished hymns, author Michael D. Young combines his musical expertise with information specific to each song.

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written by an American preacher, Philip Brooks, after traveling to Bethlehem in 1868 to find peace after the horrors of the Civil War and assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Brooks’s original poem, with one largely unknown final verse, is included along with the lyrics of the beloved carol.

“In the Bleak Midwinter” was voted the best Christmas carol by a BBC survey of experts, but the song was actually created from a poem by Christina Rosetti and did not become a carol until decades after her death when it was paired with music by Gustav Holst. Today, Rosetti is considered one of the most important poets of the nineteenth century, and the carol she unintentionally penned is one of the most haunting and beloved of all time.

An Advent Carols Countdown is a beautiful gift book for the whole family to enjoy along with the music of the holidays. Each entry also features a QR code that will link to an audio or video performance of the carol performed by the choir most associated with Christmas, the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. From the celebration of Christ’s birth to being with family to singing Christmas carols, I enjoy every moment. So, I was happy to read this book. It contains the lyrics to 24 carols and the stories of their origins. A few of the carols are ones I haven’t heard of, but it contains many favorites such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night.”

The book is set up to be read during Advent from December 1 to December 24. I plan on reading it again during that time and listening to each song as well. Each song has a QR code that takes you to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s audio or visual performance. I love it!

About the Author

Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governors University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, Educational Leadership and Instructional Design. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and their three children, where he teaches in a German dual language immersion program. He enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, the Chess Quest Series and the Penultimate Dawn Cycle (The Hunger, The Thirst, and The Longing), as well as the non-fiction work, The Song of the Righteous. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, Nugent Magazine, The New Era, Keeping Tab, Allegory, Liahona, and Ensign. He has also won honorable mention three times in the Writers of the Future contest.

He runs several podcasts, including “Chapter and Verse” and “Songs for All Seasons”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.