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Percy Faith was one of several arranger-conductors of the 1950s and 1960s who is credited with popularizing “Mood Music” – a powerful force in FM radio and record album sales for nearly two decades. His approach was to soften the popular brass and woodwinds of the big band sounds with large string sections, and occasionally, a choral interweaving with special emphasis on the treble voices.

Percy Faith was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As a youth, he was a gifted pianist and violinist, but when he was badly burned in a fire, his focus changed to arranging and conducting. He established a distinguished career in Canadian broadcasting prior to his move to the United States in the 1940s.

His first American recording sessions were for Decca, but by 1949, he had moved to RCA Victor where he recorded several tracks, including Deep Purple, Jimmy Dorsey’s Oodles of Noodles, and two releases featuring The Ray Charles Singers: My Dream Concerto and the haunting Whirlwind.

In 1950, Percy Faith began a long-term association with Columbia Records, providing rich and vibrant support to the recordings of such artists as Sarah Vaughan, Jerry Vale, Doris Day, Frankie Laine, Jill Corey, Tony Bennett, Toni Arden, Johnnie Ray, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Johnny Mathis. Represented within this set are his sessions with Marion Marlowe, Champ Butler, Felicia Sanders, and Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson.

For more than a decade, Percy Faith issued many major hit singles that scored high on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts. He was one of the first to record Christmas In Killarney and Sleigh Ride for the 1950 Christmas season. The success of this release was likely the incentive for later recording several Christmas album collections, all of which have been reissued on LP, cassette tape, and CD. Leroy Anderson’s Syncopated Clock was a pop favorite in 1951; but Faith literally hit gold in 1952 with the dramatic Delicado, featuring harpsichordist Stan Freeman. (Lyrics were soon added to this instrumental, and RCA Victor followed with a recording by Dinah Shore.) The following year, The Song From “Moulin Rouge” (Where Is Your Heart) soard to the top of the charts where it held the #1 position for ten weeks. The Swedish Rhapsody (the B side) also achieved great recognition and is regarded by fans as being one of his very best. Many Times was a major hit in 1953, with releases by both Percy Faith and Eddie Fisher. Faith’s last mega hit was another film favorite, The Theme From “A Summer Place,” which remained at the top of the Billboard charts for nine weeks.

Beginning in 1953 and continuing until his death in 1976, Columbia Records issued more than eighty Percy Faith collections. Throughout an association that spanned more than twenty-five years, his highly diversified albums were reflected in their titles: Continental Music, Music From Hollywood, The Most Happy Fella, My Fair Lady, Li’l Abner, Hallelujah!, Porgy and Bess, The Sound of Music, Exotic Strings, Great Folk Themes, The Beatles Album, Angel of the Morning, Jesus Christ, Superstar, Country Bouquet.

In 1956, Columbia Records issued the LP Passport to Romance. One of the tracks – Little Lost Dog – captured the attention of broadcaster Ted Strasser at WJR in Detroit, who was about to assume the leadership from Larry Jones of the Sunday morning program, “Patterns In Music.” The introduction of this track was used as the opening and closing of each segment of this four-hour program, becoming one of the most popular and requested themes in WJR’s history. By 2002, Mike Whorf had taken over as the program’s fifth host, and when he retired in 2005 and the station cancelled the weekly musical “journey,” the same popular Percy Faith theme was still being used.

Percy Faith has left a great legacy in a wealth of recordings encompassing more than thirty years of a brilliant career.

Felicia Sanders (born Felice Schwartz in Mount Vernon, New York) was a featured night club and radio singer prior to being brought to the attention of Mitch Miller in the early 1950s. According to a Canadian DJ at CKLW in 1954, The Song From “Moulin Rouge” was to be Jerry Vale’s breakthrough hit record, but because Vale was having problems with laryngitis during the date of the scheduled recording session, a change of direction became necessary. Miller decided that the track would be primarily Percy Faith’s instrumental, with a vocal added about one-third of the way into the recording. Felicia Sanders, who was not yet officially signed to the label, was brought to the studio and was paid only union scale for one of the best-selling records of 1953.With a new Columbia recording contact, she later recorded the sensitive Wanting and Loving, with Faith conducting, and Blue Star, the theme from the popular television series, “Medic.” In 1957, Sanders was the first to record Meredith Willson’s Goodnight, My Someone from “The Music Man” shortly after leaving Columbia and signing with Decca.

In 1950, Mitch Miller left Chicago-based Mercury Records to accept an executive position with Columbia Records, creating a dramatic transformation within the company. He initiated the signing of several new entertainers, including The Four Lads, Jerry Vale, Rosemary Clooney, Johnnie Ray, Tony Bennett, and St. Louis-born Champ Butler, who remained with the label until 1955. Among Butler’s most successful single releases were his 1951 recordings, I Apologize and the exuberant Down Yonder. He later recorded some very memorable tracks with Percy Faith, including Be Anything (But Be Mine), Take These Chains From My Heart, and I’m Walking Behind You, a major hit song that secured the #1 position on Billboard for seven weeks. Butler’s later recordings recordings were issued by Coral and Dot.

Mahalia Jackson was already a seasoned worldwide performer by the time she signed with Columbia Records in 1954. Known as The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer, her early years were devoted to singing in churches, but as her fame increased, she was welcomed enthusiastically in major concert halls. She declined lucrative offers to perform in Las Vegas because she would not sing where alcohol was server. Her recordings for Apollo were best-sellers, which included Move On Up A Little Higher, which reportedly sold more than eight million copies. Her Columbia albums were especially popular, and her single releases included A Rusty Old Halo, One God, The Lord Is a Busy Man, Mary’s Little Boy Chile, The Bible Tells Me So, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, and For My Good Fortune. She preferred recording with an ensemble of instrumentalists (frequently, The Falls-Jones Ensemble), but by the late ‘50s, was persuaded to record the album “The Power and the Glory” with Percy Faith conducting, one of the most dynamic projects of her illustrious career. She and Faith also recorded Away in a Manger, which was not part of this release. Jackson was a welcomed guest at The White House where she was invited to perform for President and Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower, and later traveled to India for a performance before thousands which included Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Missouri-born soprano, Marion Marlowe, secured a recording contract with Columbia Records soon after Arthur Godfrey added her to the roster of singers of his highly-rated radio and television programs on CBS. She quickly became popular with her show tunes, operetta favorites, and recordings, and If You Love Me (Really Love Me) became a Top Ten hit song in 1954. Upon leaving Godfrey and Columbia the following year, Marion signed with Archie Bleyer’s Cadence Records and released The Man in the Raincoat, the best selling recording of her career. In 1959, she co-starred with Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel in the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” Several of her recordings, including her 1954 hit, Whither Thou Goest, are part of Jasmin’s two-CD celebration: “Arthur Godfrey and His Friends” (JASCD 146).

Robert Nickora, May 2010


Special Thanks: Mike Whorf, Sandra Johnson, Graeme Freeland, Ray Lord, Val Shively.

Cash Box Pop Singles Charts 1950-1993 by Pat Downey, George Albers, and Frank Hoffmann, Published by Pat Downey Enterprises, Boulder, Colorado 80307, USA, Copyright 1994.

Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music by Joel Whitburn, Published by Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin 53051, USA, Copyright 1986.

Richard Rodgers and Percy FaithIt was mid-January, but it was warm and sunny in Los Angeles the morning I boarded the plan bound for New York City and a meeting with Richard Rodgers. The weather would be cold there, but the mission would be a warm and thrilling experience for me. I was to hear the music for DO I HEAR A WALTZ?, a new Broadway show being prepared by Rodgers and his gifted lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.

The purpose of this early hearing? I was to record an instrumental version of songs from the up-coming musical, and the familiar pattern that would precede this special kind of recording was beginning to unfold.

First, there was the urgency. The show would soon be leaving New York for pre-Broadway out-of-town performances. Second, hearing the Rogers-Sondheim score in this early stage would provide a chance to experience the songs in their purest form with voice and piano accompaniment. Watching the action on stage in rehearsal, even without sets and costumes, would be helpful, of course; and it was a chance to hear and see all this at the show’s inception, before the score would be eagerly seized by dozens of recording vocalists and orchestras. In this way I would be able to capture the spirit of the songs and transfer it to the “voice” of the orchestra. This had been the method for my instrumental versions of “The Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady,” “South Pacific,” “Kismet,” and many other orchestral albums.

And the music? I could scarcely wait to get back home and begin preparing these arrangements of Richard Rodgers’ great music for DO I HEAR A WALTZ?

Music of romance seems invariably to draw forth the most rapturous melodies composers can offer, and Percy Faith’s arrangements of the tunes in Exotic Strings are undeniably in keeping with their mood of moonlight, romance and rapture. Probably no other conductor-arranger is so successful in the presentation of romantic music, keeping the sound tastefully rich and at the same time allowing full outpouring of the melodies.

The Faith technique is stunningly evident in the present collection. To the fifty virtuoso strings comprising his orchestra, he has added exotic rhythm instruments to enhance the sonorous depth and breadth of his arrangements. The immense Hollywood recording studio where this album was made is ideally suited for capturing the flowing components of orchestral voices and countermelodies.

The repertoire of Exotic Strings offers fine Broadway and Hollywood ballads by Alexander Borodin (by way of Robert Wright and George Forrest’s musical version of “Kismet”), Arthur Schwartz, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Vincent Youmans. And in addition to such favorites as Poinciana, Nightingale and My Shawl, Percy has included an original composition Chico Bolero. The unusual effect of plucked strings playing in countermelody against soaring strings is one of this selection’s particular delights.

In Exotic Strings, the Faith sound is gloriously displayed. The music provides a splendid medium for orchestral enchantment, and the enchantment, in turn, enhances the music in a way that is both intimate and expansive.

Canadian-born, but today a citizen of the United States–more exactly a resident of Great Neck, Long Island — Percy Faith had his first professional job at the age of 11, when he played a hearts-and-flowers piano accompaniment to silent movies in a Toronto theatre. He was too small to reach comfortably from bench to keys, so they built him up by seating him on a thick stack of sheet music.

At 15, having attended the Toronto Conservatory of Music, he made his debut on the stage of Massey Hall, along with other star pupils. The critics seemed to like his playing of Liszt’s “Hungarian Fantasy” so, he says, “I thought I might try professional piano — outside of a movie theatre.” At 18, he was writing musical arrangements for prominent bandleaders, and the following year, he became a member of a small concert group. He left this group after a year or two to do radio work.

Faith’s musical talents soon began to develop beyond the limitations of merely playing an instrument; he found himself becoming more and more interested in composing, arranging, and conducting. His work in these three capacities was so outstanding that, in 1933, he became staff conductor, arranger, and pianist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He remained with CBC for seven years, during which time he wrote and arranged the music for important dramatic programs , and conducted such popular musical shows as “Music by Faith,” “Strings in Swingtime,” “Bands Across the Sea,” and the Empire broadcasts when the King and Queen visited Canada.

Faith came to the United States in 1940 to appear as guest conductor on NBC’s “Carnation Contented Hour,” following the death of Josef Pasternack. In September of that year, he was invited to accept the position of permanent conductor. Percy accepted, and he continues to guide the distinguished orchestra, all of whose programs Faith does himself.

Two of Percy Faith’s more recent originals are “Aphrodite” and “Snow Goose.” The latter composition was written as background music for Ingrid Bergman’s radio dramatization of Paul Gallico’s famous story and added greatly to the effectiveness of the narrative.

An experienced recording artist, Percy has made several sides with Hildegarde, and she has made guest appearances on his air show. These Latin0-American selections bear the inimitable Faith stamp. The arrangements are intricate and exuberant, spiced with provocative native touches; the interpretations are full-bodied and imaginative. They all bespeak the versatility of the conductor-composer-arranger, who says: “There is very little music I don’t enjoy playing; but’s I’ve always had a special yen for the samba, tango and rumba rhythms of our neighbors south of the border. I hope you like them as much as I liked making them.”


The enthusiastic reception and outstanding success of the last Percy Faith album featuring the 12-girl voice chorus make this follow-up album welcome and inevitable.

FOR THOSE IN LOVE offers current hits treated with the sweeping strings and voices in the stylings that have made Percy Faith famous. The repertoire for the album includes the biggest and most recent hits available. The voices are alternatingly spirited and sensuous; the orchestration is pure Faith magic. Such exceptional songs as Sunny, Goin' Out of My Head, Never My Love, The Look of Love, I Say a Little Prayer and others move. This album is a treat for everyone and especially for those in love.

By 7:50 P.M. (Pacific Time) most of the regular Percy Faith musicians had gathered in the recording studio. Violinists were strolling around dropping cadenzas, and the brass men were flushing spit valves and paying off old football bets. At that moment a man walked into the studio carrying a banjo case.

As the banjo player headed for his chair, the orchestra members looked around for an exit. “Must be the wrong studio,” said a cellist, while a gaggle of flutes began to pack up. “I thought this was a Percy Faith date,” the drummer said. “This is the second time this week I’ve goofed.”

Then Percy appeared, stepped to the podium and waved to the banjoist. The time and place for another Faith album were correct. Only the music had been changed.

Faith fans have come to expect the unexpected from this talented man. They know he’s a Canadian who plays Latin music, a string writer who loves jazz and a conductor who may well have accomplished more with an orchestra than anyone else in popular music. They remember his “Music of Christmas” (CL 1381/CS 8176) as the first time an orchestra played the words of the carols: they still play his “My Fair Lady” (CL 895) album to hear the orchestra put on a Broadway hit, and only recently the Faith orchestra in “Themes for Young Lovers” (CL 2023/CS 8823) brought two generations together by showing parents how good their children’s favorite songs really are.

So, it probably won’t surprise you to hear America’s newest favorite, folk music, played by the Faith orchestra of nearly fifty fine musicians, including that banjo player. The songs are all familiar to guitar players and coffee-house gangs. But the colors of a great orchestra give these songs new permanence and new beauty. Percy once again reminds his vast audience of the versatility of his orchestra.


Twenty-five years ago a tall, slender, black-haired Canadian with wo unlikely and therefore memorable names arrived for his first day’s work as Director of Popular Music at Columbia Records. He rode to the fourth floor of the Columbia Building at 799 Seventh Avenue, a 52nd Street corner surrounded by music publishing houses, rehearsal studios, and The Hickory House, then a musicians’ hangout, and was shown to a small center office along the north corridor reserved for the company’s producers. In the large corner office just down the hall Mitch Miller, who had hired him, was beginning his Columbia career as Director of Popular A&R. Miller had been hired away from Mercury Records by then Executive Vice President Goddard Lieberson. Next to Miller’s office was another large room occupied by Joe Higgins, veteran A&R producer and former assistant to Miller’s predecessor Manny Socks. At the opposite end of the corridor was the office of George Avakian, then Columbia’s resident jazz collector and producer of classics by Goodman, Ellington, Beiderbecke and Armstrong. My office, smallest of the cubicles, was between Avakian’s and the new Music Director’s. “I was impressed and a little scared,” Percy Faith remembered. “I didn’t even know what Mitch expected of me.”

In 1950 the name Percy Faith was not unfamiliar either to American musicians or to the American public. He had recorded briefly for Decca in Chicago in 1944 while his orchestra was featured on a widely heard weekly show called The Carnation Hour, sponsored by a manufacturer of condensed milk. During the seven years he arranged and conducted at the Carnation Hour music, his guests included such stars as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, George Shearing, Louis Armstrong, Nat Cole, Count Basie and Erroll Garner. Between 1947 and 1949 Faith replaced Andre Kostelanetz in New York as the conductor of the Coca-Cola sponsored network radio program where he conducted for such featured guests as Robert Merrill, Eleanor Steber, Richard Tucker and Gladys Swarthout.

But before his arrival at Columbia to accept the $200-a-week job under Mitch Miller, Percy had been out of work for two years. His was a large and expensive orchestra, and he would not do without his favorite section, the strings. Moreover, Percy was not the typical, highly publicized and high-living bandleader of the day. He was a soft-spoken, gentle man whose hobbies were fishing in the streams of Canada and playing golf whenever he had a day off. At the end of each working day he hurried home to Long Island and his wife and two children. While his new assignment was to assist Mitch in the search for material and to arrange for and accompany the growing list of singers Miller was signing, no one, least of all Faith, expected that he would remain under contract for the next quarter century, earn countless gold records for his single hits and his astonishing variety of albums, and become for musicians and public alike a master of orchestral composition, arranging and conducting.

Percy began his Columbia career by opening his office to every publisher with a song to sell. Mitch Miller quickly enlisted his talents to accompany the label’s singers, including Tony Bennett, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Jerry Vale and Johnny Mathis, whose hits of the 1950’s were made possible in large part by Faith arrangements. It was during this period that Percy wrote the Guy Mitchell hit song “My Heart Cries For You,” as well as recording his own first his with his version of “The Song From Moulin Rouge,” featuring the voice of Felicia Sanders.

But Faith was still an instrumental writer, as the second side of “Moulin Rouge” indicated. “Delicado” told more about his future than anything else he had recorded during the first years at Columbia. It revealed on of Faith’s true musical preferences, the complex, impulsive rhythms of Latin American music. “I can’t explain how a Toronto boy fresh out of the conservatory had such a feeling for Latin music,” he said. “Maybe I’d been snowbound too long.” Coinciding with Faith’s first hit was the new demand for popular long-playing records, and Percy’s first albums of Latin and Continental music were well received. He was now not only a Columbia employee; he was a Columbia artist with an audience of his own.

The mid-50’s established Percy in yet another area of orchestral music in which he was to excel. Instrumental albums of the music of Broadway found a large audience who seemed not to miss the lyrics, who welcomed the big sound of Faith’s orchestra, who bought Percy Faith versions of the scores of “Kismet,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound Of Music” and “Camelot.” Also, Percy arranged the music of George Gershwin and recorded a two-record set that remains one of the most beautiful of all Gershwin collections.

But, in particular, it was Faith’s writing for strings which identified his style. I remember Duke Ellington joining me in the control booth during one of Percy’s recording sessions. I was surprised to see Ellington, a night creature, appearing at any but his own recording date.  “I want to learn how to write for strings,” he mumbled as he sat listening. It was this magical string writing that convinced us to record Percy’s first all-string orchestras in the gold-record-award album “Bouquet.” And it was “Bouquet” that led to a best-selling series of string albums, culminating in the 1960’s with string arrangements of the Beatle hits.

At the end of his first decade at Columbia Percy recorded “The Theme From ‘A Summer Place’,” an instrumental single at the opening of the vocal-rock era in popular music. It became his biggest hit, adding a new young audience for his music. In 1960 Faith moved his family to the west coast to work with me in the new Columbia studios in Hollywood. And to begin his second decade of recording he chose much of the best music from the screen for his album catalog. Settling into California golfing weather, returning each summer to fish and to visit his relatives in Canada, he was at last established as a composer, arranger and conductor of his almost-symphonic-size orchestra. He began to play concerts both in this country, where he filled the Hollywood Bowl each summer season, and abroad, where he conducted the symphony in La Scala. He was a world-wide star; his records heard in every country.

Percy Faith’s days of accompanying singers were over, or so he insisted. But it was in our early days on the west coast that I asked him to do the almost impossible—accompany Mahalia Jackson with full orchestra. Hers was to be an album of Christian hymns and anthems, the first time Mahalia had ever sung with strings. “I can’t sing opera,” she cried to me over the telephone from Chicago. “I don’t play gospel,” Percy reminded me in my office. Nevertheless, for me, for Mahalia, for the challenge itself he agreed, and Mahalia arrived by train in Los Angeles, filled two taxis with herself, he erstwhile accompanist Mildred Falls, and her luggage, and disembarked at the Sunset Boulevard entrance to Columbia shortly afternoon one Monday in 1960. Standing on the sidewalk surrounded by her suitcases, Mahalia searched for cab fare, then noticed a tall man walking along the sidewalk toward her. She had no idea who he was, but asked, “Will you lend me five dollars? I’ll pay you back. I’m Mahalia.” The man handed her the money. “I’m Percy Faith,” he told her. And so they met. The album “The Power And The Glory” was the result, and it remained Mahalia’s favorite for the rest of her life.

In the mid-60’s Percy Faith changed his recording style again, or rather he added a new dimension to the man successful variations of his musical personality. Recognizing both the importance of the new generation of young record fans and the beauty of much of their music, he began to make albums of contemporary melodies suitable to his orchestra, and, because much of the appeal of this music lay in its poetic lyrics, he added a chorus of singers. The records were unmistakably Percy Faith, filled with his trademarks: string voicings which produced counter melodies as beautiful as the tune itself, decorative comments by flutes and vibraphone, and, of course, the exotic rhythm instruments which had first excited his audiences twenty years earlier. Only the sound of a girls chorus was added, but the resulting albums have been enthusiastically received by Faith fans unborn when “Delicado” was first recorded.

On Monday, February 9, 1976, as he was preparing for his twenty-sixth year of recording for Columbia, Percy Faith died of cancer in Encino, California. The presence of the disease had been known to him and to his family and close friends for several years, and he had been undergoing periodic treatments. Biologists and sociologists mark the crucial difference which separates the man from other life forms by celebrating the creative human mind and its accomplishments as the true measure of our superiority. Certainly, Percy Faith’s career left the world richer. He made a creative difference. But while all men live uniquely with the foreknowledge of death and the burden of anticipating it, few, aware as he was of its imminentness, shun self pity, refuse to alter or to modify the pace of their lives. Percy went on making music, touring the world, planning the continuity of his career. Typically, also, he continued to be the gentle, concerned and generous friend to all who will miss him.

He died with several years remaining of his Columbia recording contract. But this memorial album, representing twenty-five years of his records, is a unique tribute, rare especially in so-called popular music. Why Percy Faith was able to sustain his popularity, to accumulate generations of dedicated listeners, is difficult to explain in words. But not in his music. Except for the titles, you will find it almost impossible to decide which of these marvellous performances was recoded recently, which two decades ago. All are timeless. All are forever preserved on phonograph records which in our century have at least made the art of the performing musicians as permanent as the pyramids.

—Irving Townsend

One of the most-treasured collections of Christmas melodies has been Percy Faith’s “Music of Christmas,” (CL 588), a magnificent orchestral setting of many of the loveliest hymns and carols of that season. As a companion volume, Mr. Faith now presents a second collection, arranged and played with the same joyous reverence and majestic beauty. Here he presents a number of carols that have been sung down the centuries, along with others that are comparatively new, all of them deeply a part of the Christmas celebration. Carolling, in fact, is a is perhaps the most widely kept custom of Christmas, and these splendid orchestrations echo that unique combination of devout worship and merry good fellowship that is one of the enduring aspects of Christmas.

Hallelujah Chorus
This jubilant passage from Handel’s Messiah represents some of the greatest pages in music. Composed in 1741 by George Frederick Handel, a German who made England his second home, Messiah was first performed in Dublin in April of the following year and shortly thereafter in London. According to legend, King George II was so moved by the fervor of the Hallelujah Chorus at the first performance that he rose to his feet, thus forcing the rest of the audience to arise, a custom that has carried down to this day.

Away in a Manger
Widely known as Luther’s Cradle Hymn, this carol is believed by many to have been written by Martin Luther for his children. There are many different musical settings for the words, of which the one played here by Mr. Faith is the most popular and—like the melodies of so many carols—by an anonymous hand. Almost as well known is the version employing Flow Gently, Sweet Afton for its tune.

We Three Kings of Orient Are
This beloved carol was written during the nineteenth century by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., son of the second Bishop of Vermont. In its portrait of the Magi it employs ancient musical styles with telling effect. Hopkins, himself a clergyman of note, was an accomplished musician and poet, although most of his work, apart from this carol, is now unknown.

Gesu Bambino
This melody is one of the most recent of all those included in the collection, having been composed in 1917 by the famous organist Pietro Yon. Its lovely simplicity placed it at once among the lasting carols, and it has been increasing in popularity ever since its publication.

Angels We Have Heard on High
Like those of so many other beloved carols, the origin of this work is obscure even to musicologists. Its French origin is betrayed by another title, Les Anges dans nos campagnes, and most authorities feel that it dates from some time about the eighteenth century.

Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella
Also French, and also traditional, this carol appears to have originated in Provence some three hundred years ago. A translation, by Edward C. Nunn, was made during the last century, suggesting the carrying of torches to the cradle of the Infant Jesus, a custom popular during medieval times.

Good Christian Men, Rejoice
This stirring melody has been traced back as far as the fourteenth century, and has since been edited by many composers, among them Sir John Stainer. In character it has much of the quality of the old English carols.

Carol of the Bells
Another carol of surprisingly recent origin is this joyous selection, published in the United States in 1936. The melody itself mirrors the lively ringing of the bells of Christmas. It is a Ukrainian carol, composed by M. Leontovich.

I Wonder as I Wander
One of the most beautiful of all Christmas songs is this touchingly simple folksong from America. Discovered by John Jacob Niles in North Carolina, it has now taken its place a as a classic song of Christmas and appears frequently in concert programs as well. Like so many other folksongs, it echoes in its music the England of early times.

I Saw Three Ships
This merry tune comes from England, where it has been known for more than five hundred years. Its traditional choruses describe the sailing of three ships, bearing Mary and the Christ Child, to Bethlehem on Christmas Day, in the morning. “And all the bells on earth did ring.”

What Child Is This
William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics that transposed the melody Greensleeves into a charming carol sometime during the last century. Before that, the tune, dating from the sixteenth century, was among the best known and loved in all folk literature, and even today enjoys a renewed popularity, both in its original form and in its Christmas guise.

Angels, from the Realm of Glory
As the preceding carol reflects the tenderness of the Christmas story, so this one displays the joy and cheer of the season. The melody was composed by Henry Thomas Smart during that fruitful period of the Christmas carol, the nineteen century, to words written several years earlier by James Montgomery.

O Tannenbaum
An early and enduring symbol of the Christmas season is the fir tree celebrated in this ancient German carol. Again, neither the author nor composer is known, and the melody itself has been used for many varying purposes.

Christians, Awake!
As in the case of O Little Town of Bethlehem, the words of this carol were written as a Christmas present, in 1749. John Byrom was the author, and the next year his friend John Wainwright composed the music, arriving at the Byrom household with carolers to present his splendid gift.

The term "mood music" seems to have fallen into disuse, and it is just as well. It held a connotation of sugary blandness, and it was applied too widely, willy-nilly, to the music of anyone who scored popular music for large orchestra including strings.

The fact is that the best of America’s popular music (and the world’s, for that matter) deserves full-orchestra treatment. We tend to forget that when, in the 1940’s, the first such recordings were made, they struck people as being unusual, even pretentious. Sometimes, alas, they were pretentious.

But a few men refined this kind of writing until it became a kind of high art. My personal favorites are three men: Paul Weston, Robert Farnon, and Percy Faith.

You can treat this kind of music casually, if you wish, and sometimes, indeed, it makes perfect background for cocktail parties. But if you want to listen into the music, you’ll hear some remarkably skilled recomposition.

I always approach a new Percy Faith album with pleasurable anticipation, knowing I’m going to encounter something that can be listened to at two distinctly different levels. Hearing his inner melodic lines, hearing how perfectly he ties up every loose end (a characteristic he has in common with Farnon), I simply groove. Every detail is perfect. For, aside from enormous skill, Percy Faith has impeccable taste. Whereas some excellent orchestral technicians have to throw everything they know into each arrangement, Percy Faith also knows when to cool it – when to be simply simple.

There have been albums of movie themes before. In fact, Percy Faith has written some of them. His are always different from anyone else’s. He finds fresh and unexpected approaches to the material. This album is no exception.

There is a paradox in the career of Percy Faith. He has been enormously successful; but he hasn’t been properly recognized. There is no dearth of music criticism in America: albums and artists who deserve little more than an “Oh, yeah?” reaction are analyzed ponderously. This middle ground of popular music, what is inaccurately called “easy listening” music, goes almost undiscussed. Maybe this is because not enough writers can really hear such things as counterlines.

Even Percy Faith’s movie score for “The Oscar” was under-recognized. If you haven’t got that album, by all means get it. It contains, among other excellent tunes, Faith’s beautifully haunting maybe September. It is a remarkable example of the application of popular-music techniques and styles to motion-picture scoring. It is one of my very favorite albums.

Whether putting songs into a movie, as Faith did in that case, or extracting them from movies, as he does in this case, Percy Faith is one of the most masterful writers in American popular music.

If you’ve bought this album, you have probably enjoyed his music in the past and so know what you’re going to hear. If you’ve listened to Percy Faith’s albums only casually, for light pleasure, may I suggest that you now listen deep? This man is more than an enjoyabkle arranger: he’s an important composer.

– Gene Lees

(One of our outstanding lyricists, Mr. Lees’ film collaborations include scores with Johnny Dankworth and Lalo Schifrin.)

Canadian bandleader, orchestrator, composer and conductor PERCY FAITH (1908-1976) became famous for his lush arrangements of pop standards. He is often credited with popularizing the "easy listening" or "mood music" format. Faith became a staple of American popular music in the 1950s and continued well into the 1960s. Though his professional orchestra-leading career began at the height of the swing era, Faith refined and rethought orchestration techniques, including use of large strings sections, to soften and fill out the brass-dominated popular music of the 1940s.