Music to trim the tree to: Traditional hymns and holiday favorites for Christmas celebrations

Peabody's Sarah Hoover shares her playlist picks, plus a special eggnog recipe from the Peabody Archives

"My first Christmas tree was a disappointment," says Sarah Hoover, Peabody Institute's special assistant to the dean for innovation, interdisciplinary partnerships, and community initiatives. For part three of the Hub's curated playlist series, Hoover assembled a list of traditional Christmas songs and classical pieces to play while trimming the tree.

Sarah Hoover

Image caption: Sarah Hoover

"It was freshman year in college—papers and exams were all we could think about. Our lame attempt at holiday cheer was to get a string of white lights, some construction paper, mandarin oranges and chocolate bars. We made a paper chain and arranged it along with the lights on the beat-up split leaf philodendron, and I put chocolate bars and oranges underneath it for my roommates. It was enough to register as an effort, and we managed.

"By sophomore year, I was prepared," she continues. "I came back to school after Thanksgiving with my box of childhood ornaments, and we bought a tiny tree somewhere near campus. Lights, ornaments, a star at the top—much better. But what really made it better was that I also had the music. In my family, you can't trim a tree without holiday music. So if you're a tree-trimmer, or just trying to beat the exam blues, here's a list of classical Christmas favorites, some very familiar and some not, from my household. Happy holidays!"

Sarah Hoover's playlist

  • "Jauchzet, frohlocket" from Weihnachts-Oratorium by J.S. Bach
  • "Sinfonia" from Weihnachts-Oratorium by J.S. Bach
  • Concerto No. 8 by Arcangelo Corelli, performed by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
  • "Once in Royal David's City" arranged by Arthur Henry Mann, performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge
  • "Geistliches Wiegenlied" by Johannes Brahms
  • "A Ceremony of Carols" by Benjamin Britten
  • "Marias Wiegenlied" by Max Reger
  • Pastoral Symphony by G.F. Handel, performed by Academy of Ancient Music
  • "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Ives +"Walking in the Air" by Howard Blake

As a special bonus, Hoover also included Peabody Trustee Frank Frink's 1862 recipe for eggnog, which was found among his papers in the Peabody Archives.

  • Beat the whites and yolks of one dozen fresh eggs separately, the whites in a large flat dish, the yolks in a large bowl until both are as light as possible.

  • Whilst beating the yolks stir in and beat with them 12 heaping tablespoons full of pulverized loafsugar.

  • Take 9 wine glasses full of best French Brandy, 4 of old Jamaica spirits and one Curacao cordial, mix them in a pitcher, then pour the liquor very slowly into the yolks, sugar, stirring well all the while until thoroughly mixed.

  • Then add also very slowly two quarts of very rich cream or one quart of very rich cream and one of rich new milk will do, (but the cream is preferable) until the whole is well mixed.

  • Then pour into your egg nogg bowl and add tablespoonful at a time the whole of the whites well stirred in until thoroughly mixed, the whites having previously been beaten to a froth.

According to Frink, "This makes an Egg Nogg agreeable to Ladies and Gentlemen, for Gentlemen alone another wine glass or two of brandy and one of Jamaica is not objectionable. Improves by keeping an hour or two before drinking it—occasionally stirring it from the bottom of the bowl."