Rediscover ‘original beauty’ of Christmas music with Scythian’s new ‘Christmas Out at Sea’

Scythian Appalachian folk band Scythian. | Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian

Scythian, an Irish folk band headlined by two Catholic brothers, wants to help you “rediscover the original beauty” of Christmas music through their new album, “Christmas Out at Sea.”

Full of energetic carols that reach moments of striking beauty and depth, Scythian’s Christmas album brings a fresh take on a beloved music genre that for many has begun to suffer from the fatigue of commercialization and overuse.

Dan Fedoryka, one of Scythian’s leaders, told CNA that the band “felt called to release this album.”

“Commercialism is at an all-time high, and even the ancient carols are being stripped of their depth and beauty through modernization,” he said. “We wanted to help people rediscover the original beauty of these ancient carols and by so doing remember the true meaning of Christmas.”

Appalachian folk band Scythian. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian
Appalachian folk band Scythian. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian

While featuring some of the genre’s most beloved classics with new maritime twists, “Christmas Out at Sea” also boasts some unconventional songs that Fedoryka explained highlight humanity’s greatest unifying factor: the need for salvation.

“In an age of polished crooners which focus on the ‘feel-good’ of Christmas, we hope this album brings renewed appreciation for a season which points to our need for a savior and the gratitude which comes from being saved while lost at sea.”

Why sailors?

“Similar to the shepherds of Jesus’ time, sailors were often seen as the unwanted of society,” Fedoryka explained, “and this ‘outcast’ character shines a light on the true state of affairs.”

Listen to a sampler of Scythian’s “Christmas Out at Sea” album here:

Rather than just a set of unrelated holiday music, the album tells a story of sailors at sea, separated from their families and loved ones as the Christmas season approaches. Through the voices of the sailors, at times jubilant and at other times weary, Fedoryka said the story connects with the human experience common to all.

“This album really moves me because it is such an analogy of life. It begins peppy and full of zeal and then reaches a solemn weightiness during ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent,’” he said.

“You can feel the weight of life bearing down on the sailors as they sing in the doldrums of life —awaiting a savior,” he said. “Harkening back to ancient carols, sung with manly voices, we’re hoping to create a space that lets the true power and theology of the hymns to affect the listener.”

Scythian performs at a Christmas concert. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian
Scythian performs at a Christmas concert. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian

In the next song, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which is sung by some of the band members’ wives, Fedoryka explained that the sailors’ wives waiting on shore are “beckoning their husbands home for Christmas.”

Finally, in the last song — a Christmas medley including “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World” — the sailors reunite with their wives and families and break into chorus together in a Christmas celebration.

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In addition to its danceable tunes, which blend Irish, Ukrainian, and other folk traditions, Scythian is also known for its high-energy, joyous performances that engage people of all ages, from children to the elderly. Their Christmas album delivers that Scythian brand at its best.

Scythian spent the year performing at venues across the globe, including at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Orlando, Florida, in the summer.

The album even includes one of the band’s performance staples, “The Wellerman,” a sea tune made popular by TikTok but with a Christian Christmas addition.

Fedoryka explained that the tune was included because it “immediately connects with the younger generation” and “really fits the theme of the album.”

“We added a Christmas verse and chorus that gives me chills every time, since people familiar with the tune never would expect it — and so it really drives the theology of Christmas home in a unique way,” Fedoryka said.

Scythian performs at a Christmas concert. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian
Scythian performs at a Christmas concert. Credit: Photo courtesy of Scythian

To Fedoryka, making “Christmas Out at Sea” was about “seeking to keep Christ in Christmas” while appealing not just to the pious but to every person in such a way that calls them back to the true beauty and joy of the season.

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In a time where anything old is often seen as evil or backward, Scythian’s Christmas album brings new life to the holiday music genre, awakening listeners to the magic of ancient traditions.

Scythian also hosts and headlines an annual folk music festival in the Appalachian Mountains that is highly attended by Catholic young adults and families.

Christmas is about the “unbridled joy of knowing a Savior is born to us, which spills over into dancing and song with spirits high,” Fedoryka said.

“Gathering with loved ones and singing carols is a favorite tradition of ours, and this album is what we hope all our Christmases are about.”

Scythian’s “Christmas Out at Sea” album is available for purchase on the band’s website and for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to music.

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