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Continuing with our November theme of celebrating Advent this year, I am joined on today’s show by the Your Morning Basket Plus music specialist Genie Shaw. We are talking all about Advent music, what makes it different from Christmas music and why you might want to add some of these pieces to your holiday playlist. We give you ideas for which pieces to start with and how to add celebrating these to your holiday season.

Pam: This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring Truth, Goodness and Beauty to your homeschool day. Welcome to the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. On today’s episode of the podcast, we are talking all about Advent Carols or Advent music with my very good friend Genie Shaw. Genie is a mom of seven who has the most beautiful voice. She studied music in college. She was actually introduced to music by her mom in her own homeschooling days. This is a second generation.
The great thing is, Genie is not just keeping all of this wonderful music knowledge and that beautiful voice in her home, she is sharing it with all of us. We’re going to be talking today all about Advent music and how we can use music to set the atmosphere of our homes in the days leading up to Christmas.

We continue the conversation that we started last week about Advent with what it is and what’s some of the differences between Advent and Christmas music or hymns? My hopes after this episode of the podcast is for you to take a look at a couple of these wonderful hymns and maybe decide to use one of them in your home this holiday season.
We’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor. This episode of the podcast is brought to you by our Advent Morning Time Plans. These wonderful morning time plans are four weeks to help you prepare your heart for the holidays. In Morning Time, you can use these with your kids and they make a wonderful addition to your holiday Morning Time. The best thing about these plans is they are absolutely free. All you have to do to get them is come over to the website at, enter your email address and you can download your set of plans.
Now, they are freshly revamped this year. They’ve gone from three weeks of plans to four weeks of plans to take you all the way through the Advent season. We focus on Handel’s Messiah, some Advent prayers, memorizing verses from Isaiah related to the Messiah, some Christmas themed map and some Christmas themed art for picture study and also, some art projects that you can do as well, there’s a little bit of nature study on the side. So many great Advent and Christmas themed activities in this free set of plans we have just for you, so to get your set today.
Genie Shaw is a second-generation homeschooling mom of seven living deep in the heart of Texas. Genie holds a BA in music voice from Texas Christian University. She is the author of an e-book, Awaiting the Messiah, a family Advent devotional that walks through Handel’s Messiah. Genie shares her musical expertise through the music notes portion of our own morning time explorations, and she is also the author of the Catholic morning time plans here at Your Morning Basket.
On her website,, Genie offers readers inexpensive ways to live the liturgical year with good music and delicious food and she gives us a peek into the life in her domestic monastery. Her newest book O Come Let Us Adore Him, is the perfect way to enter into Advent and Christmas through Carols. Genie, welcome to the podcast.
Genie Shaw: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Pam: I think this is the first time you’ve ever been on the podcast with as much as we’ve done together.
Genie: I know, I know, I guess you’re right.
Pam: I’m happy to have you here.
Genie: Oh, thanks.
Pam: Well, start off by telling all the listeners out there a little bit about you and your homeschool.
Genie: We are Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers. Mostly Ambleside with some tweaks for our faith. We try to just do as much as possible overlapping with ages because we do have a lot of kids. That makes things a little more manageable for me. Half of them are not school-age, so balancing that it helps out to have that little bit of flexibility and overlap.
Pam: Remind me of their ages?
Genie: My oldest son is 11 and they step down from there. My youngest is 18 months old right now.
Pam: George is not the baby anymore there–
Genie: No, he got kicked up or I guess promoted. That’s the nicer way to say that. There we go.
Pam: He was my buddy, gosh a couple of years ago at the convention now, right?
Genie: Yes, yes.
Pam: Well, I tell you, you’re second-generation homeschooler and you brought your mom to the Texas convention a couple of years ago. I love her. She is a bundle of energy.
Genie: Never met a stranger.
Pam: She certainly hasn’t. Your own love of music, where did that come from? Was that something from homeschooling, from church? Where did it develop?
Genie: Well, actually it started with hymns. After lunch, my mother would practice. She’s not a trained musician, but she could read music from high school marching band. She would pick out on the piano, two parts of a four-part hymn. That was really my earliest introduction to music. From there, she would just try to expose us to different things. Like you said, she didn’t have necessarily a curriculum or education in the subject, but she could turn on the classical music station or she could remember a piece that she had heard and listen for the name at the end of it and then would play that or find recordings back when tapes and CDs were still a thing.
Like Pachelbel’s Canon, we had, “Here’s the version with the C in the background, and here’s the version with just the piano.” She’d find something and just really fall in love with a piece here and there and that was more of the classical introduction to music. The hymns and then those pieces that resonated with her but she then had for us to then remember just through every exposure.
Pam: Your love for music came from what she exposed you to and in her own love for music and just her playing those different things for you. Then you went off to college and decided this was what you were going to do.
Genie: Yes, and it was more. I fell into it through the historical door of it. I sung in high school choir, but that was it. There wasn’t really much of a choir-church wise, so there wasn’t that opportunity until college. I just fell into it. From there it was actually Dvorak Stabat Mater that I heard on the first day. When we would start a semester, the masterwork that we would do just for the basic college choir, like low-level no audition, no nothing.
We would listen to the piece and I was so moved by that masterwork by Dvorak that– I was like I need to be a part of this and I need to help make that more accessible. If you don’t know about it, it’s hard to then incorporate it for your family and find ways that work for you to use it and it not be as daunting.
Pam: That’s the wonderful thing about what you’ve done for us. First, with the Morning Time Bites and then through the Explorations as well. We get that lovely recording from you every single morning and families can sing along. It’s so funny. I had somebody tell me recently they were like, “Oh my child told me, ‘Mom, Miss Pam is singing opera.’” I’m like, “Oh no, no, no, that’s not Miss Pam, that’s Miss Genie who’s doing that.”
Genie: Some months are better than others. It just depends on the time of day.
Pam: We love it. You do make it where families can use it and make it approachable for them and so that such a gift. I know as a Catholic family, you practice the liturgical year. I guess if I can say it like that practicing the liturgical year. You live the liturgical year. Why do you think music is such a great way to enter into different liturgical seasons? When I say that, I’m also talking about seasons like Christmas and Easter that all Christians celebrate as well. Why do you think music is a good way to live the liturgical year?
Genie: At least it’s easy way for us to set the tone and atmosphere and mark the change of the season. For example, with Lent and Easter, you’ve got that more penitential time of Lent and then you go into the celebration of Easter. Likewise, with Advent and Christmas, you have that preparatory anticipatory season of Advent and then the greater celebration of Christmas that would go until, basically, February in medieval times.
It’s the sounds. People bake and things like that that fills their other senses, smell and taste, and things like that. You also have the opportunity to do so through the sense of hearing and things like that. Then also, if you choose to sing as well, it’s just another way to mark that change for us, our family, specifically.
Pam: I love that. You’re right. So much of the atmosphere for these different seasons of the liturgical calendar can be set with music. We do things through smell and we do things through sight with decoration or lack of decoration during some seasons. It’s just another way to utilize those senses and set the atmosphere. That’s great. I want to talk to you about something that might be a little bit of a point of contention. What is the difference between Advent music and Christmas music or is there a difference between the two?
Genie: Well, carol-wise, we have to look at– Of course, you can call them Advent carols or Advent hymns or Christmas carols or Christmas hymns, they’re the same. Those terms are interchangeable, meaning hymns and carols. It’s really when we look at the text and we look at even the tunes, you’re going to see a lot more, like I mentioned, for Advent, there’s the preparation.
You can think about it like the leading up to any baby being born. You’ve got to prepare, you’ve got to get things ready, you might have a baby shower, things like that. You’re going to be focusing on different things. Also, Advent itself, not only is it focusing on that first coming of Christ in the flesh, but it’s also focusing on His second coming. There’s that dual preparation, dual focus, within the text that you can find.
Sometimes, you can even hear in the tune that it might be a minor or not as happy of a tune when they’re setting or when they did set those texts. Sometimes, you can hear the difference between the two, whether it’s the Advent carol or a Christmas carol. Some are more peppy than others, but it’s usually what is the content of the lyrics that’s going to tip you off.
Pam: A lot of times it’s the lyrical content, the words themselves that are talking about the difference. We’re going to talk about some more specifics in just a minute, but I’m going to put you on the spot. Are you a purist when it comes to music for Advent and Christmas and when each kind of music has to be played?
Genie: This is a tough one. This is a really tough one because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings too, but then, also, my husband, he’s like, “I’m going to turn up that,” when he drives. He’s like, “I’m going to turn on the local station.” That of course, starts their– I think they’re playing it now actually, their Christmas music. It’s the popular– I wouldn’t say modern, but I would say classic holiday music.
Think Bing Crosby, think Nat King Cole, things like that. He loves it. He eats it up. At the house, I’m more like, we’re going to have just the Advent type. It’s mostly for the kids because I do want to be able to mark that shift, when Christmas actually begins, because otherwise for me, it’s six weeks of doing Frosty over here.
Pam: Yes, and you’re sick of frosty, you really are. Frosty has nothing to do with Jesus.
Genie: Yes, there’s that, and I think that the more somber tone of some of the Advent music, be it carols, be it classical music, be it even just like the Winter instrumental things, what comes to mind for that, like Charlie Brown soundtrack, things like that, which I would group in more of like folk music. With that, I feel like you have more space to prepare your hearts and just get ready time so that you do feel prepared when it actually hits and you’re rolling in a snowball to the other season. I know to each their own. It’s a contentious subject, I know.
Pam: Yes, that’s interesting that you would put the Charlie Brown instrumental music, in that’s okay before Christmas. It’s more of a preparation music. I wonder if that has to do with the fact that you and I grew up watching Charlie Brown before Christmas.
Genie: Right, we had that atmosphere.
Pam: Or it could be the fact that you could probably just listen to that one all year round and not get sick of it.
Genie: It’s really calm. It’s not like a Sousa March or something that’s getting you revved up.
Pam: It has no lyrics.
Genie: Yes, exactly.
Pam: It may be so, but then I’m with you, I don’t know that they’re playing it right here right now, but they start the day after Thanksgiving. The worst part about it is they stop on Christmas Day. It would be nice if they would just carry it out through January 6th and so you would have the option, but unless you have your own Christmas music queued up and you’re listening to the radio, you have no choice if you’re going to listen to the radio. I didn’t really want to put you on the spot too much. I will say that I try to hold out each year and get closer to Christmas if I can. I certainly don’t start listening before Thanksgiving.
Every once in a while, will turn it on in the car, but I try to get closer and closer to Christmas. Let’s move on to the next question, which is, what are some examples of Advent music? This is where I struggle. I struggle finding music that I enjoy listening to throughout Advent so that I don’t feel like I have to resort to Christmas music to get into some different spirit. I’m not going to say the holiday spirit, but just an out of ordinary time spirit, if that makes sense.
Genie: There’s a few different routes you can go on that. We’ve mentioned a few, the classical music or the instrumental or even the hymns themself. If you want just an artist or a choir that’s really good that you can look for, say, on your Amazon Prime music or things like that, the King’s Choir of Cambridge is really good high quality. They’re the ones who do the lessons in carols with a new hymn each year and it’s always on Christmas Eve.
What we try to do is, we try to line up our big tree decorating day with that. Of course, it’s going to be a recording because they’re in the UK, but the new one will be out that day, that Christmas Eve for us so we can try to incorporate that. They always have a new hymn composed or reset each year. That’s a fun thing. They’re always excellent in their recordings, so anything by them, I would recommend.
Pam: Can you give me some examples of songs because I can think of two whole Advent songs, and I know there have got to be more out there.
Genie: Yes, of course. Like I said, there’s some that are going to focus more on the second coming and then some more, your traditional, preparing for the birth of Jesus. There’s: Behold The Bridegroom Cometh, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Even, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, is technically an Advent hymn. Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending, O Come Divine Messiah, O Heavenly Word Eternal Light. On Jordan’s Bank The Baptist’s Cry, that’s technically an Advent hymn too. The Angel Gabriel, The Cherry Tree Carol.
Pam: You have a bunch.
Genie: Yes, I’ve got a long list that I’ve compiled over the years.
Pam: You’ve got a lot.
Pam: Are there any Advent songs that, I’m not going to say secular, but that are, let’s say more popular than– You know what I’m talking about.
Genie: Yes. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, is like the number one that everybody– whether they know it’s an Advent hymn or not, they pretty much know. There’s that one. One that’s more popular in the Anglican world is People, Look East. That’s one that we really like. We actually sing that one around the Advent wreath versus O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
Pam: That’s interesting because, People, Look East is my favorite Advent song.
Genie: I love it. I just love the imagery of it and all that.
Pam: Yes, it’s so lovely. I had never considered that I could substitute that one for O come, O come, Emmanuel around the Advent wreath, so you have given me permission to do something new.
Genie: Do it. Go for it, girl. Go for it. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is actually from the last week of Advent with the O Antiphons, My INTJ, I want everything in its proper place as much as possible as I can with seven kids so the things I can control, I’m like, okay, we’re going to put this here.
Pam: You’re not supposed to sing that one until the last one.
Genie: Yes. In the Divine Office where it comes from that’s when they start using those antiphons so that’s where it all originated.
Pam: Tell everybody who’s listening who maybe doesn’t know what the O Antiphons are? Give them a little background on that.
Genie: Another name for them is the Golden Nights and that’s basically, if you look at Advent in the liturgical sense, it builds as you go each week. There’s now a lot going on even feast-day wise towards the beginning, and then you reach Gaudete Day Sunday, and that’s when it’s like, “Okay, we’re getting close, we’re getting close.” Last week of the O Antiphons, you’re going over different names for Christ, which each antiphons has a different name in the Latin so if there’s O Wisdom and an O Key of David, and you’re actually moving through chronologically the genealogy as well. It’s almost like a mini Jesse tree if you’re familiar with the Jesse tree.
It just hits those different names each day until you hit Christmas Eve and actually, if you look back, they spell out Ero Cras, which means “tomorrow He comes.” That’s just a modern thing that people have pulled out of it, but it was a big deal in the monastery because that’s when they started having a little more laxity to their fasting during the season so they’d bring out the good wine on one of the nights and they’d have the fruits that were left over in the pantry or the root cellar on another night and things like that. They were building towards that greater celebration with Christmas.
Pam: Yes, because historically, Advent, and I’ve heard it called before a little Lent, this was a time of fasting and preparation. We think a lot of Christmas in the modern sense that from November to December, you’re on this downhill slide of going to parties and baking cookies and things like that but traditionally, that period there, those four Sundays of Advent and that entire period was a time where you were holding back. You were preparing, but you were not feasting yet and you actually didn’t start the feasting until December 25th. Then of course went for the 12 days of Christmas through January 6.
Genie: Yes, that’s right. The tradition of even when you started baking wasn’t until December 21st for St. Thomas. There were all these little things that were built in, okay, this is when we can we start this, and this is when we have enough time to start this and, but still have that character of the more penitent looking forward.
Pam: Right. I think that’s one of the things, and I’ve talked about this with the Scholé Sisters before, and I can link to that. We’ve had a couple of different podcasts on not being the White Witch and this idea that we put so much pressure on ourselves to immediately after Thanksgiving start doing Christmas. Then it all ending on the day after, on December 26, if we thought about it, if we just pulled back a little bit and stopped and used those weeks for their traditional purpose to build up to the big day, we would probably have a lot less stress around the situation.
Genie: Right. Then you can give yourself grace in there too. Oh, well, we didn’t get to this thing or this tradition or this activity, we’ve still got the 12 days after Christmas, when we’re off anyway usually from school. Even people that don’t homeschool, usually have a bigger chunk of time there and you’re not trying to run to a holiday concert or this or, you know what I’m saying? There’s that breathing room for mom.
Pam: Yes. We’ve gotten into this, what was my next question is why is it important for families to slow down and lean in to Advent? I think we’ve talked about that there, that you do, you really do give yourself time to lead up to the celebration and then I love what you said about giving yourself grace and taking some of those days after Christmas to do some of those activities that you didn’t get to. Let’s talk about– You have a lot of little kids at your house, so what are some ways that we can celebrate that Advent Christmas season with those little kids and music?
Genie: For us, just because of my background and having sung it multiple times, one thing that we incorporate as our Advent calendar versus candy or things like that are snippets or excerpts, whatever you want to term it as of Handel’s Messiah. When you look at the whole form of Messiah, there are three portions, there’s the Christmas portion, of course, there’s also the Easter, or you would call it, it’s more geared towards Lent because it’s the suffering of Christ and then there’s the afterwards Christian life and then looking towards the second coming.
We break that up and I have a calendar to where if Advent– because it does change if you’re in a liturgical church, the length of time changes– so I have it split up in a way into the Messiah with different years links. I have it, each piece or sometimes it’s a couple of the movements to listen to. What spurred that is that we were listening– over the years, when I first put it on for the kids, they would only want to hear like five of the songs, so we listened to the same five movements and I’m like, “There’s a whole other, you’re missing some stuff here”. That was really my way of trying to give them a fuller picture of that masterwork and making more of the pieces memorable for them.
Pam: How much would you say– Like on a daily basis, let’s just talk a little bit about Awaiting the Messiah, which is the devotional where you’ve broken this down for people, how big of a snippet would you say that you listened to on any given day of Advent?
Genie: None of them are even on the longer days, like when Lent is really short, not longer than 10 minutes, but most of them are like, here’s three minutes of one, probably a recitative is usually paired with one of the arias And that’s it.
Pam: Now I’m just going totally practical on you. I’ve got this house full of little bitty kids and I’m wanting to play this music for them and they maybe don’t have a lot of exposure to it, what are your kids doing while you’re playing this three to 10 minute piece of music?
Genie: It depends on the day. Over the years it’s changed but if I had a bunch of little kids and only little children, I would put them all in the bathtub and it would be part of bath time or it’d be part of snack time. They’re playing Duplos quietly, okay, we’re going to pop that on right now while they’re not running around because I had a bunch of boys in a row. I had five boys and then our first girl, so things have been very loud for a very long time.
I would jump on those opportunities when there was a lull in the volume. I’m not talking about critical listening as some might when you get into music education and things like that, that critical listening. I’m talking about free listening where it can be the ambient music in the background. Then as they get older, we go into that more attentive listening because I don’t really care for that word critical when talking about music study.
Pam: Okay. About what age do you start making a transition into that attentive listening and then what do you do if you have two or three who are above the attentive listening age and then a number that aren’t? How do you make that work?
Genie: Well, when they get to– I would say, when they’re sitting down and can do a read aloud with you, they can listen to a short piece. You can still be doing handicrafts and things like that, that aren’t taking their full attention if it’s a longer piece, it’s nice to have those things. If it’s a shorter piece, even just like my elementary-aged children, which they all are now, but like even the younger elementary-aged children, they can lay their head down or they can be eating a snack or they can– anything like that because they can still hear and pick things out even though it might not seem like they’re giving it their full 100% to every beat of the measure.
Pam: Once the piece is over, then what does it look like? Do you move into some discussion or explanation or you’re just like, “That’s it”? That’s all there is to it.
Genie: In Awaiting the Messiah, specifically, I have four weeks worth of more structured, basic music, you can call it music appreciation, if you’d like, music study, four specific pieces that fall in that week. That’s the deeper dive if you want to take that, but even just, what instruments did you hear? One thing that even my younger kids like to do is, because sometimes it’s a choir, sometimes they’re soloist, sometimes things like that are swapped between or during a piece, you can say, “Raise your hand when it’s just one person singing. Stand up if the choir comes in.” Things like that.
That’s just little simple things that I don’t even write down that you can throw in there just so that you know that they are listening to that more attentively than just background music. That’s not even a necessity for each one or even what text or what was your favorite part of that piece or what line did you hear that you liked or what do you think they meant when you heard them saying this? There’s lots of different things, and it’s got all the text in there that you can–
Handle has a bunch of runs in the music and that’s just a lot of notes for one syllable. In chant, they call that melisma. When you’re into classical music, they’re just called runs and things like that. Sometimes, even though it is in English, it can be difficult to hear what the actual text is. It’s nice to have either a child read that after the fact or before or pick out a line from there and try to hear for it. There’s just so many options to make it fit your actual ages and stages.
Pam: Oh, I love it. Everything that you’ve just said to me, you don’t have to be any kind of musical expert to be able to pull off in your home.
Genie: No prep. That’s my thing. If it’s got a lot of prep, I’m like, “Oh, do I really want to do this?”
I try to talk myself out of it, because I’m like, “What’s the payback on this?”
Pam: You’re exactly right. You mentioned attentive listening, but it almost seems to me like it’s active listening when you start talking about “Oh, raise your hand when you hear this” or “Stand up when you hear that.” That’s so perfect for those elementary age kids and then moving into, let’s read this line, let’s hear these words or listen for these words, then that starts aging the activities up.
Genie: You can get into mood and all that stuff. Did it sound like it was happy at this point when they were talking about this or did this seem more subdued here? You can make it as elevated vocabulary-wise as you want and still be drawing just from the basic level of the text and the music. You’re not even getting into theory analysis or anything like that for it to still be good for those older ages.
Pam: Just having those good conversations about what they’re hearing. I think sometimes leaving the theory out of it makes it a more enjoyable practice for– It’s just like, you’re just having a conversation about something beautiful that you’re hearing and it doesn’t become a subject you’re doing in school.
Genie: There’s not as much pressure put on upon the experience there.
Pam: Very much so. I love that. So many good ideas there. If there’s some families who want to include Advent music, and we’re not even talking at this point about replacing Christmas carols. If you’re the person who listens to Christmas carols from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas, we’re not saying, “Oh, throw those out and don’t listen to them at all.” If they would like to maybe add in some Advent carols and begin to hear some of the differences in those lyrics, where would you have them start?
Genie: There’s tons of free options now, whether it be Spotify or Amazon or just different things. You can just type in Advent music and King’s Choir, they’ve done several recordings of just that or type in, lessons and carols because you know all those are going to be Advent hymns, just anything like that. Even if you wanted to go the classical route Bach did a bunch of his cantatas for Advent. Although he wasn’t Catholic, he wasn’t writing for that, he was writing for a liturgical church. He did have stuff for just about every time of year. There’s options like that.
I’m putting up playlists and things like that to where it’s just the versions that we like and that’ll all be up on the website, just things like that. I would even just take one and learn it this Advent, this year.
Pam: Starting with one would even be–
Genie: You wanted that to be your hymn study for December. It doesn’t have to be, we’re going to throw them all in there and let’s just jumble it all up. It can be just, let’s find one that speaks to our family and it’s going to have an impact on our family. If we like it, we can add another one next year we can just try it out.
Pam: I love that. Let’s talk about, Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him. Tell me a little bit about that because that’s your newest book for families.
Genie: Right. Like how I said about Messiah, we were focusing on the same five. I know that my mom did not say, this week, we’re learning this one. I realized that somehow she had made it to where we had a lot of exposure to– They weren’t Advent carols because my dad is a Baptist minister, but I’m talking about Christmas carols here, but the same thing.
What I wanted was that there was a more intentional exposure to different Advent carols versus the same two, [laughs] like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and People Look East. They’re like, they’ve got that down. They know this.
Pam: They wrote this book for me.
Genie: Most of everything I write is because, I’m tired of messing with this, I need to get organized so that I can make something happen in my home, honestly. It’s a calendar for that and to have different Advent carols spread out throughout the season that can be picked from. We know what day they apply to specifically, but if you just like it, you can also use it there. It’s got the history behind it, a recording that you can learn with your family, things like that, the text of course.
What a lot of people I don’t think realize is that, when you get into those more classic holiday songs and things like that, a lot of those are still copy written. It’s hard to do, if you’re going to use the text, if you’re going to use recording things like that, to use those as much as my kids do love them. When a song is 200 years old or the tune is 200 years old and then 100-year-old English text, then it’s a lot easier to work with. Oftentimes, it’s a lot better written when you get to the prose of the text.
Pam: With the book, you said there were recordings. Are these recordings that you’ve done yourself?
Genie: Some of them are. Right now, because there’s so many of them, they’re not all by me, but they’re all going to be free, either ones that I put up on YouTube on my channel, or, just free, good quality ones that are by other folks on YouTube.
Pam: One of the things that I like about the recordings that you make for us is that there’s not typically instruments in there. It’s very easy to focus on learning to sing the words and learning the melody along with you. Sometimes when we get into these more traditional hymns and things, especially when it’s like a choir singing, there’s so many parts and moving things going on, it’s like, “Oh, which one do I saying?” How do I find the melody?
Genie: Exactly. When you’re learning any sung music, the most basic way that we have learned that as humans is that we would listen to our parents. It’s the passing of that oral tradition, even though it is singing from the parent to the child. When I record stuff, I’m trying to be the next best thing, if that makes sense. If I know somebody that doesn’t have musical expertise or doesn’t know this particular thing– that’s really what started our Singing with the Saints stuff and everything, was that somebody asked me to do a St. Lucy Day recording in English because she couldn’t find a recording in English. She didn’t know anything about music. All she said were the words in front of her or a copy of the English words translated and no recordings for her daughter to sing along with.
That really spurred a lot of having the courage to even record anything because with my personality, I don’t want to be out there. I stand behind the organ if I have to do something at church. If I’m at a funeral, I’m like, “Okay, let’s just hide over here.”
Pam: We thank you so much for doing it and we’re so appreciative of the fact that you have put yourself out there and made these lovely recordings. Both of these resources that are going to be good for families at this Advent, you can either choose Awaiting the Messiah or O Come Let Us Adore Him depending on which direction you want to go, our Genie would probably be happy if you chose both.
Genie: Do one each year. That’s the thing that I tried to do with it two is that you can choose how in-depth you want it to be. You can do it once a week and have it just be their soundtrack while they’re playing and just hit the seven days worth in an afternoon. You can make it work for you. That’s my thing. I don’t stay on track with everything. I can’t hold all the balls, juggling them in the air constantly. Something’s going to drop at some point. Having those opportunities to catch up or to tweak a little bit here or there and still not feel like a failure, I’m all about them.
Pam: I love it. I love it so much. You’re speaking my language. Genie, tell everybody where they can find you online.
Genie: Most of all my stuff is just on the website If you want more daily saint stuff or what we’re doing on the fly type of thing, that’s going to be Instagram. That’s about as much as I can keep up with online-wise.
Pam: Is that BarefootAbbey on Instagram?
Genie: Yes. It’s BarefootAbbey just all smooshed together.
Pam: Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on and joining me and talking about Advent music. You made me feel better about it, I will say.
Genie: Oh, fabulous.
Pam: You really did. I’m going to be looking at some of those recommendations you made and you’re right. Let’s just take one new one and add it to our rotation this year and we can just keep doing that year after year and before you know it, we’ll have built up our collection. I love it.
Genie: Awesome.
Pam: There you have it. If you would like links to any of the resources or songs that Genie and I chatted about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. Those are at We’ll also link up both of Genie’s fabulous holiday music studies for you over there as well.
Now, we are about to head into our Winter hiatus here at the Your Morning Basket Plus Podcast. The entire team is going to take a little bit of time off to spend the holidays with our families, but we are coming back on December 29th with a very special New Year’s Resolutions for your Morning Time episode. Dawn Garrett and I will be back with that and then we’ll be jumping straight into the new season of the podcast in January.
We have so many great things planned for you guys. We’re going to be talking about studying travel in your Morning Time, a little bit of math, doing some tea time, how to handle multiple ages of kids, a growth mindset from a Christian perspective. We’re even going to have some very special guests like Martin Cothran. So happy to be launching that next season. Do come back and join us then. Until then, happy holidays, Merry Christmas from our families to yours

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Awaiting the MessiahPinAwaiting the MessiahCatholic Morning Time PlansPinCatholic Morning Time Plans


Key Ideas about Advent Carols

  • We often mark the change of seasons with food, decorations, and smells. We can just as easily use music to help mark these seasonal changes and set the atmosphere in our homes by choosing to listen to music that appropriately matches the liturgical season.
  • Advent and Christmas carols differ in their theme and tone. Advent carols will primarily focus on the coming of Jesus as a baby as well as His second coming and will have a somber tone. Christmas carols will focus on the joy of Christ’s arrival and will have an energetic tone.
  • It’s possible to do music appreciation even with small children. You can start by just listening and enjoying the music in the background during playtime or meals. As children reach early elementary they can likely participate in more attentive listening being guided to pay attention to the instruments they hear, the mood of the music, or even share their favorite part.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • 3:32 meet Abby Stone
  • 5:16 how school changes at Christmas time in Abby’s home
  • 12:09 the importance of traditions during the holidays
  • 14:04 Abby’s family traditions
  • 20:22 educational Christmas traditions
  • 30:17 Christmas school with an infant

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