Category Archives: Christmas Music

Merry Christmas to You!

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Love, from our family!

This year, my husband and I cancelled our trip to be with my daughter’s beautiful family. I know this social distancing is a temporary condition.

The State of California is in a worse than ever situation at the present. Many hospitals ran out of ICU beds. The news on Saturday, December 19, said that if someone had an accident or heart attack, the hospitals may not treat them because there were no rooms in the ER. Many families will suffer the losses of their loved ones to this horrible disease. We remember them in our thoughts and prayers.

The United States on Monday, December 14 administered the first shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to health-care workers, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s long march to bring the virus under control. Initial shipments of the second vaccine Moderna authorized in the U.S. left a distribution center Sunday, December 20 and the first shots were administered on Monday, December 21. About 20 million of people in the US will receive vaccination by the end of the year. Combining the two vaccines, there will be 400 million shots for 200 million people available by the end of July 2021. Help is on the way!

We look forward to a better, healthier, brighter, and shiner 2021!

Here are two more of my favorite Christmas music.

Winchester Cathedral Choir performed For Unto Us a Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah

O Holy Night. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir

Stay safe and enjoy your beautiful holidays wherever you are!

Silent Night – The Composition, The Story of WWI, and The Choir

Silent Night is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I would like to review some of the stories behind this 202 years old popular Christmas music.

The Composition

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The Silent Night Chapel is located in Oberndorf dei Salzburg, Austria, where the song was first performed

“Silent Night” (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas Carol. The lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr in Salzburg, Austria. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf.

Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment. The first performance of the carol was on December 24, 1818, in the Christmas Eve mass.

Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr’s name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, many people assumed the melody was composed by a famous composer, and it was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers as c. 1820. It states that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting. (Source)

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The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 by Naina Bajekal

German and British troops celebrating Christmas together during a temporary cessation of WWI hostilities known as the Christmas Truce.
German and British troops celebrating Christmas together during a temporary cessation of WWI hostilities known as the Christmas Truce. Mansell—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In 1914, just a few months into a war, Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own…

It’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front… Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce…

Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.

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I chose this arrangement of Silent Night performed by the Winchester Cathedral Choir on December 27, 2010

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My Favorite Christmas Music/Dance/Movies – White Christmas

This week I present another of my favorite Christmas music/dance/movie

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, October 1954

White Christmas

Plot

Having left the Army following W.W.II, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, as the lodge owner, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So, what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!

The Story Behind “White Christmas”

The White Christmas first aired during the Kraft Music Hall radio show December 25, 1941. Then-host, Bing Crosby, crooned the carol which is special at the time. Pearl Harbor had been attacked just a few weeks before.

It turns out, the song has a sad back story too. It was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born immigrant who did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish.

Berlin’s three-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on December 25, he and his wife visited their baby’s grave.

He wrote “White Christmas” for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. In 1954, it became the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas.

Crosby’s rendition quickly became an American favorite. It was constantly requested by troops during Bing’s USO appearances overseas, which gave the singer some mixed feelings. He didn’t want to come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times he tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. Clearly, they identified with the wistful lyrics about holidays at home. Since then, “White Christmas” has been an all-time favorite.

Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, 1942

Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye sing “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, 1954

The King’s Academy, WPB, FL performed “White Christmas” in February 2018

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